So what now?Posted: April 7, 2011
After several days of projectile vomiting and vertigo, I was healthy enough to visit my grandfather yesterday. He’s in terrible shape. The doctors give him a 25% chance to make it through the year, but I don’t think he’ll make it past the summer. I just can’t get over how swiftly he declined. He still had his wits about him (for the most part) when I came home in February. He’s an invalid and barely verbal at this point. It looks like he’s in agony when he’s awake, and he can’t put much into words. He’ll scream for me, but there’s no recognition when I tell him that I’m there. That’s the hardest part to take.
Nevertheless, I’m going to keep making regular visits. That weds me to central Louisiana for the time being, because I need to be close to his nursing home in Winnfield. So I’m putting most of my life on hold until he’s gone. The old man isn’t long for this world. That much is indisputable. I want to be there for him for what little time is left, or for however long I can bear it.
But what then?
What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I knew I would eventually have to ask myself that question once I left Iraq. The initial buzz from my homecoming passed right around the same time that I finished my manuscript and started dropping it into people’s laps. Funny how that coincided.
Then my grandfather got sick, which in turn jumpstarted some old lingering family drama. Then I got jerked around royally by someone who’s not even worth expending another keystroke. Then I got sick. Then I had a couple of utterly miserable trips up to the Rapides Parish School Board Office. At the behest of a couple of my old teachers, I went up there to inquire about a teaching job. The people there were rude and looked at me like a creep, so I just turned around and walked out. No sense in going down the rabbit hole with some petty bureaucrat.
All of that junk + a terrible uncertainty about my future = a head-on collision with a major depressive episode unless I shake myself out of this rut, like yesterday.
So what now?
I guess the one silver lining in the midst of this funk is my realization that I’m done with Baton Rouge. I still care deeply for my friends who live there. I’ll enjoy visiting them, as well as the occasional trek for LSU sporting events. But I can’t live there anymore. The traffic is absolutely ungodly. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, and it doesn’t matter the locale – you are almost guaranteed bumper to bumper traffic once you hit the road. Interstates, state highways, surface streets, residential neighborhoods – it’s uniformly terrible. I think local ne’er-do’ wells are holding flash mobs with the express purpose of ensnaring the rest of us. I just know that I multiply any normal travel time by a minimum of three when I’m there. I make sure to bring a fully charged iPod, cell phone, a few MREs, a case of water, a full complement of road flares (cavemen are enthralled with fire, after all), my Gerber multipurpose tool, a Rambo knife (because it has a magnesium lighter, for more fire!), a cup full of loose change to whip at homicidal motorists, canned goods to chunk at kamikaze motorcyclists and bicyclists, and a single shot pistol for myself when I’m finally sick of it all. And that’s just to run around the corner for milk and eggs.
I loved my most of my time at LSU, but those days are long gone. And it’s a fool’s errand to go back for that PhD at this point. I simply can’t go back to living like a starving grad student for another 4 or 5 years whilst grinding away at some dissertation that will make for a stupefying dull book proffered by a shifty vanity press, making the rounds at the various conferences presenting papers to bored and drunk eggheads, and then begging for a tenure-track job at Bootlick Falls Community College, lest I get mired in adjunct hell. In my twenties, that route was almost romantic. Now that I’m at the tail end of my thirties, it’s asinine.
I just can’t see a future there. There are simply too many painful memories of failed relationships. And for a town that is chockfull of young and supposedly educated women, the dating scene absolutely sucks. I’m sure I’ll eventually do an entire post that’s nothing more than a screeching polemic about the overall shittiness of Baton Rouge women, but I think I can encapsulate it thusly:
My apologies to my BR female friends. Most of you are lovely, wonderful people.
Most of you, that is.
But what now?
I dunno. Maybe something will pop up between now and when my grandfather passes. Maybe nothing will. If nothing does, I might look into going back to Iraq with a different employer or going to Afghanistan. The money’s pretty good, it felt good helping the troops, and I felt a hell of lot more alive than I do right now. We’ll see.