Saturday, July 30, 2005

Books Books Books (and some bitching)

I've been on a little reading jag recently. I whipped through Parched by Heather King like some kind of possesssed maniac because it was such an engrossing story. First of all, she is a very good writer and a lot of the story is set here in the NH Seacoast area, my home turf too. I got to see her read in Portsmouth last month and would love to read about how she got from where she left off at the end of Parched to where she is now.
After finishing such a good read so quickly I was suffering from book withdrawal (and a good funk on the occasion of what would have been my fifteenth anniversary) and headed off to the library before I had the chance to consider the recommendations I received from some kind folks in their comments. I need to start a list of books to read and keep it in the little notebook I just bought to keep in my bag. I went without much of a plan other than the vague notion that I'd like to read John Irving's latest, knowing full well it wouldn't be sitting there on the New Books shelf waiting for me. Instead I found I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe waiting there for me. I'm about 100 pages into it and some of it screams of old man trying to write about a world he doesn't really know anymore, but it's still entertaining. His eye for detail seems to be most accurate when he writes about the rich and spoiled people, which is probably closest to the world he knows now. I don't know if young men walk around consciously thinking thoughts of entitlement and superiority like some of his young male characters do, but maybe that's something he knows more about than I do. Anyway, the book is helping me remember how clueless freshmen really are when school starts which is something I should keep in mind as this next semester approaches.
I also found a very little book titled On Bullshit written by some professor of philosophy. Apparently it stirred up some kind of hoopla when it came out but I missed all that. I read it in under an hour and my basic feelings about it were 1) I now remember why the only class I dropped out of and failed in my entire academic career was a philosophy class and 2) it was pretentious, pointless and basically reaffirms everything I hate about academia, academics and liberal arts.
Which brings me to my plan of escape from that world. I've decided I can't take it anymore. I don't want to live with the shitty pay and no benefits and full responsibilities of running a one woman show in my subject at that school anymore. So I now have a plan. My mother has commented to me before that I always have a plan and am happiest that way. She's right. My current plan involves making fuller use of my language abilities and going back to translation,this time with a specialization. When you specialize you can charge more and it becomes easier to do the work because you're familiar with the topic and spend less time in dictionaries and worrying about the correct way to word things in your own language. It means more money and less time on the job. I like that. To accomplish this, I am going to take an online paralegal course starting in September and use what I learn to specialize in Japanese to English legal translation. I figure I'll be able to make double what I'd make even if I had an instructorship at school (which I don't. I'm there on a per-course basis) and I'll be able to work from home and live the groovy freelancer lifestyle.
All I know is that being poor sucks and I make a third of what I used to make when I lived in Japan and I'm too stubborn and proud to ask the people around me for help too often, so if I'm going to be able to satisfy myself at all, I need to figure out how to make a decent living. And if the freelance translating doesn't work out the way I hope it will, I can always go get an office job with the education.

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