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Close, but No Cigar


Here's a snapshot of my life since graduating with my Masters in philosophy in June:

1. My girlfriend and I moved out of our apartment in Southside Chicago, rented a U-Haul, rolled down the windows, and blared “I Kissed a Girl” as we burned down I-94 toward our new destiny in West Chicago.

2. We moved into a bare apartment that has yet to be furnished. It’s partially underground so lots of bugs come in through the cracks and crawl over us while we’re sleeping. I don’t shave anymore.

3. I needed a job ASAP, so I applied to about 50 jobs on Craigslist, dropped off a resume in person at several publishing houses, responded to a few dozen newspaper ads, and emailed a couple blokes on U. Chicago’s alumni development list. I had two interviews (FYI: not one thing materialized from the Internet), and one offer: working as a clerk in the Up Down Cigar Store in downtown Chicago.

4. You know how if you’re away from SAT math for a while, coming back to it is tough because you’ve forgotten triangle rules and so forth? Well, working in a cigar store after studying philosophy is a jolt back to using screwdrivers, fingering a cash register, and in general doing my least favorite thing in the world: small, nimble tasks with my fingers. I feel like an idiot. I can tell the bloke next to me the meaning of the work we’re doing here, but I can’t fix a Zippo lighter to save my life. Each day, large-paunched men with thick mustaches come in and I pretend to know something about cigars in order to make a sale.

5. There was a moment a few nights ago when Thomas Crown Affair, Brokeback Mountain, Good Will Hunting, Hackers, and Karate Kid were on all at the same time. I know, I know…jackpot.

6. I live in a mostly Spanish-speaking area in Chicago, eat at home, and get cheap haircuts. So cheap, in fact, that the last haircut I got has me looking like a huge tool. The woman literally shaved my sides off and left a tuft of hair at the top. It is as if I’d walked in and said, “Scuse me miss, I’d like a haircut that makes me look horrible please…Ten dollars? Great, thanks.”

7. Some days I get down. I think, this is not what I got a Masters degree for. I want to be someone else! But as Britney Spears reminds us, “I don't like defining myself. I just am.” Tell it girl. Tell it good.

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