Originally posted 5th December, 2014.
At the start of this year, I read a great blog post about how 2013 is the year of the library. This blogger was mildly OCD superstitious, and didn’t like the number 13 in the year. And so she dubbed it the year of the library and found comfort in that thought:
Everything that happens in the library is just preparation for the next year. That means if you fuck something up this year it’s fine. This whole year is just practice. The library is made for that. Maybe you spend the year writing a book no one will ever read. Maybe you spend the year recuperating from last year. Maybe you burn the Thanksgiving turkey and forget an important birthday. It’s okay. It happened in The Library. It was just practice for next year. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s just me, but somehow I think we all need a year in The Library.
I didn’t really understand it at first, but as the year went on, I came to relate to it quite closely. A library is a safe place. A library is where you go while you are getting ready to go somewhere else. A library is potential.
The year hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would, but even as I write that, I can’t even remember how I thought it would turn out.
I moved back to Victoria from Arnhem Land at the end of last year, thinking I would spend the summer in the country with my family before moving back to Melbourne to study, finish my graduate diploma I had started in 2012. Well, the subject offerings for semester 1 were bleak, so I put off study for another semester, planning to finish in second semester.
So I was in Wangaratta for an extended period of time, looking for a job and a place to live in Melbourne. Making plans for a short visit to Arnhem Land in June. As the date for my trip got closer and closer, my enthusiasm for getting a job waned. What was the point in getting a job and moving to Melbourne if I’m going away in three months? I asked myself. What’s the point if I’m going away in two months? One month? Eventually I gave up altogether.
I still can’t work out whether I was unable to find a job/house because it’s really hard, because I’m not very good at it, or because deep down I didn’t actually want to move to Melbourne and work in a temporary job. We can’t go back in time and analyse our deep psyche. Well, I can’t at least.
So I was unemployed for about 5 1/2 months. This wasn’t as much of a problem for me as it would be for other people. I consider myself a writer, even though I’ve never been paid for it. I stick a poster above my desk that says “Writers write”, and I keep writing, hoping to get better, trying to produce something worth publishing. So I had something to do.
The thing is, I remember writing every day. But I’m not sure what I have to show for it. I did a fair bit of work on a sequel to an unfinished novel. I decided to shelve the sequel until the original was finished. So that was that. I did a couple of interviews to research for another book and started to transcribe them. I had all this time, but I felt like I didn’t get anything done, like I was just spinning my wheels.
And I was living in Wangaratta, but frequently visiting Melbourne, so that I felt like I was in neither place. I wasn’t behaving like Wangaratta was the place I lived in. I didn’t try hard to make friends. I didn’t join any clubs. It was like I was waiting to go somewhere else. Which I was. Melbourne, or Arnhem Land.
When it came time to go back to study, instead of house-hunting with my friend I was going to move in with, I decided to stay at my grandparents’ house for the semester. I didn’t want to sign a lease because I was planning to go travelling around Australia in 2014. So I put off commitment again.
As I was packing to move to my grandparents’, I got despondent about how I’d spent half a year unemployed and with nothing to show for it. Mum encouraged me, saying that people overestimate what they can get done in a year, and underestimate what they can get done in five years. I guess the point is that you can work towards things over a number of years, but it is a few years before those things finish or come to fruition.
I finished my Graduate Diploma because that’s what I do. I finish things that I start. But it was a hard semester. I was interested in the subject matter, but sick of studying. The commute from the outer suburbs was a killer. I felt so utterly disconnected from everything.
I don’t know exactly when I started feeling so dissatisfied, but I’ve spent this whole year not wanting to be where I am. Wanting to be in Melbourne; wanting to be in Arnhem Land. It’s no way to live your life. The wanting was imperceptible at first; it was only evident in the way I kept holding my roots up, stopping them from burrowing into the ground. But as the year wore on, I became more acutely aware of my dissatisfaction.
And now I’m back in Wangaratta. It feels like I’ve come full circle. It feels like I’ve gone nowhere at all. Because I’ve been in the library, this whole year. I have been resting, preparing, finishing, tying up loose ends, getting ready.
But getting ready for what? I have no idea. That is the thing about having a Choose Your Own Adventure career like I do. It’s not like, get a teaching degree, get a job as a teacher. Get an engineering degree, get a job as an engineer. It’s more like, get an anthropology degree (with Gender and Spanish), wander around, get a linguistics degree, then wander around some more trying to convince someone to employ you. I know where I want to be but have only vague ideas of how to get there.
Apparently I get stressed out at the end of each year, scared of what the new year will bring. This happened even when I was in high school and the next year would just be pretty much the same as the one before it. 2014 is my most uncertain year to date. I don’t know what I’m doing.
But one thing I know for sure.
I’m getting out of the library.