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my wormhole ft. my dog
my wormhole ft. my dog

Hunter Parsons

It’s been almost two months since I left Kalamazoo to embark on some new journey into the void, and I’m already jaded. Sure, for many 20-somethings that are fresh out of undergrad, this is old news. You come home to the old rules but a new mindset, you may fall into the couch potato life for a few weeks and go back to the job you had since you were 16. You may roll the dice and take a chance– like so many of my friends have done valiantly and definitely ungracefully (though it seems like they’re skating their way into the future)– and end up in Iowa for grad school or Chicago for a job or Detroit for new opportunities. I’ve learned in the past two months after talking to all of the women I write with on this blog that post grad life is shitty and hard and we have all fucked up already in some way or another. 

The struggle that exists in taking a chance is that some of us are too fucking scared to do it. I am one of these people. I’m 22 and live in Michigan, yet I can’t drive a car or call my doctor for my medication or get a job.

I talked about it before; I can stay or go. But two months later from those original thoughts, seeing people scooping up jobs left and right, seeing my best friends travel to Tibet and New York City and Chicago, and watching Facebook scroll by with the liveliness of summer, I feel the need to voice how hard it is to sit here and not feel like I’m doing anything.

“Well Hunter, why don’t you do something about it?” you may ask, to which I can show you the list of 20+  jobs I have applied to in the past two months in varied locations. I can show you that the only call for an interview I received was from Vera Bradley and I didn’t even do them the decency of calling back to decline an interview. But that’s just the surface of it. 

Truthfully, I’ve been so stuck in a rut that I’m failing out of other opportunities in life. I’m freelance editing a book on the side that promised me a paycheck but I haven’t seen yet because I haven’t gotten past page 8 in edits. I’ve been trying to get myself to work on stuff for my internship for a week and usually sit with an open Google doc and binge watch Friends instead. Hell, this is the first thing I’ve written in about a month. I can tell you about what happened on General Hospital last week, go to an estate sale and pick out a mid-century modern tablecloth that you can sell on Ebay for $15 when you paid $1, I can explain what a satin stitch or french knot are in embroidery, and tell you how well my Sims are on the app on my phone. This has been my life for two months. It’s far from pathetic, I mean I’ve taught myself to embroider things, but I know I’m doing it to avoid the void of not knowing. I am too scared to do anything. 

Yet, I’m in the midst of the void. All I can talk about is how 1) depressed I am 2) scared I am and 3) tired I am. These conversations vary but usually lead back to this main point: I have no idea what I want to do with my life and I feel like everyone else has it figured out (which they don’t, but try telling my brain that at 3 a.m. when I’m on Indeed job hunting because someone on Facebook just shared that they got their dream job…gag).  

The truth is, the world is full of opportunities and chances to take. I took a chance by moving back home, and I’ve fallen into a rut that I cannot seem to dig myself out of. If I’m not talking about my existential crisis, I’m thinking about it, convincing myself I’m a failure for not leaving school with a job in my pocket or not moving out before I got home.

Sure, there are other days when I remember that I’ll get where I need to be eventually. My mom reminds me that some companies take longer to get back to applicants, my friends take me to watch meteor showers or meet up in Kalamazoo or Chicago and remind me that I am smart and worthy.

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Despite being unemployed, I can still enjoy my life.

Maybe I’m saying this to me more than you, but know that there’s a way out eventually. Maybe I haven’t written poems in a while, or some days I can’t get out of bed because I feel pathetic. I hoard empty bags of SunChips and string cheese wrappers on my side table. I’ve eaten ice cream every day for the past, like, two weeks. I watch game shows from the 1970s with my mom for hours straight. I have accumulated a ton of credit card debt because I can’t say no to a Slurpee. I spend hours looking at home goods and fantasizing about the color I will paint my walls in my dream home. I am lost, and sad, and confused most of the time and don’t leave my house when it gets too hot or cold or rainy or windy or cloudy.  But I know this is going to pass one day, and I will write again, and I will figure it out. I can’t enjoy this ride right now, but I’m going to stick with it and probably cry a lot more over it. But when I’m ready, I’ll be jumping into something new. Until then, I’ll be here in my bed with my Netflix and my dog.

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Breaking the Bubble

Hunter Parsons

I graduated from my dream college a little over a week ago. When I say “dream college” I mean the one and only college I applied to after visiting during my junior year of high school. I mean the college I wanted to get into so badly that I pushed myself to get the 4.0 GPA, to play varsity tennis, be the leader for five different clubs, to boldly go where no one in my family had ever gone before: college. And yes, to my privilege, I did go there. I spent 4 years learning, loving, and getting to know the four other lovely women I write with on this blog. One week later, after stuffing a queen-sized mattress into a room that barely fit a twin, I’m in my parents’ house, the last place I wanted to end up after graduating.

They’ve attempted to make it more cozy; there’s a large Robert Doisneau portrait hanging on one wall. On another, there’s a mod looking painting of an angel strumming a harp. I painted my room gray, strung up fairy lights, and covered every surface with candles, succulents, air plants, and tubes of lipstick. My dog, despite curling up in a ball on my bed, found a way to hog the exact spot where I sleep at night. This is home, or house, and in my week here I’ve been weighing two different options that seem to be growing heavier each day I avoid them: do I stay or do i go?

When I made the decision not to go to graduate school right away, I listed a dozen or so excuses to justify my decision: mental health hell, my senior thesis project, I didn’t “feel ready”, I wanted to get my driver’s license, I wanted to just see what options home had, I wanted to see my dog, etc. All these things were true, but they were never the real reason for why I didn’t apply. Honestly, I did not want to leave my bubble.

At Kalamazoo College, we have a thing we call the “K bubble”, which means that people have a tendency to get sucked into the small community of our liberal arts college. Weeks go by before you notice that you have only seen the walls of your dorm room or campus. You haven’t left campus aside from running to the Walgreens on the corner of West Michigan and West Main (which was pretty much still campus). You live in the library or the fine arts building or the science building. Sometimes you sneak away to catch some z’s in your actual bed at home, or you sink into one of the chair’s next to the coffee shop between classes. The point is, you don’t leave. For four years you inhabit a tiny world with its own opinions and norms; you learn its language (DOGL, FAB, DOW, FACMAN, D-Watts, Stacks), its culture, and how to be in that space.

The “K bubble” was comforting, even when it got annoying. There was a structure in it that always made me feel like I belonged, like I knew what I was doing. Did I most of the time? Absolutely not. However, it gave me the illusion of that and when it came time to apply to grad school, I decided to let deadlines skate by me as I immersed myself in my final months in undergrad.

The “K bubble” pops the moment you cross the stage. During the fraction of time we cross the stage individually, when suddenly all we are thinking about is what four steps we need to remember (shake hand, smile, tassel, picture) and don’t hear people cheering for us, or see the thousands of faces around us, that’s when it pops.

But the home bubble still remains.

It feels more like living in a one of those vacuum-sealed bags than an actual bubble. It’s cramped, stale, and at this point, I would gladly take my “K bubble” again. There are expectations from my family. Just writing this is nearly impossible without having my mom ask me to drop everything to help her with something around the house. Coming home at any time I want isn’t permissable to my parents. I’m molding into the post-grad life, and I feel myself being compressed more and more the longer I sit idly.

When I look at job openings I sigh. What I want to do is far away from here, in states and cities I’ve never been to. I’d be alone there. I’m afraid.

But the choices are still there. While they might not be to apply to graduate school, my choice to move out keeps nagging at me during every conversation with family and friends who are so happy to see me home. When my mom tells me that I don’t have enough room in the house for my massive library, I cringe, daydreaming about my own apartment in Minneapolis or Chicago. The move is coming soon, I can feel it.

I just need to start living without a bubble.

Hunter