As the second of my two days off this week drew to a close earlier this evening, I sat down to do exactly two things: in both cases I ended up depressed and not finishing.
The first was to do some tweaking and editing to the two essays I've chosen to submit to Oxford. As I plan on concentrating on Romance philology should I be accepted, I thought it would make most sense were I to submit two essays in that field. One is entitled Catalan and Occitan as a diasystem, and is a rather simple 2000-odd word piece I wrote for my "Dialectology of the Iberian Peninsula" course in my final semester at Southampton. I have fond memories of that class and even of writing the essay: it was possibly the most enjoyable course I did during the whole four years, and it set firm my ambitions for postgraduate study. In a rather charming case of synchronicity, one of the set books for this course was the very book which had made me decide on applying for university six-odd years ago: Ralph Penny's A History of the Spanish Language. I had bought it from Borders one afternoon and sat reading it at work during my break. I paused for a moment and thought "this is really cool: I want to do this!" And so, in order to do so, I decided to quit my job and go to university.
Anyway, that particular essay only needed a light touch-up: a few spelling errors, some clumsiness of phrasing, the occasional mis-numbered reference. It was already the requisite length and so the editing took only half an hour. The second sample essay is actually an excerpt from my undergrad thesis, which was on the disappearance of the inflected future in colloquial French. The part in question actually dealt with Zwicky's concept of "markedness" in morphological change as it concerned the loss of apophonic variation between Old and Middle French, and I was always quite pleased with it. However, I was rather narked to discover that my initial draft in English has disappeared, and so I need to re-translate from my dreadful French version (there is no way I'm submitting the French: it's truly awful.) There's something particularly depressing and tedious about translating one's own work: when translating someone else's it's almost like an intellectual puzzle, something to fuss over and think about, with all the attendant sensations of triumph and pleasure when one hits upon the most apropos translation of a particularly knotty construction. Disheartened by the prospect of translating my own (rather turgid) prose, I pushed the damn script aside and turned to my other task of the evening: writing a job application letter.
As you may have gathered, I utterly loathe my job: laughing at it is the only way I can avoid the black depths of despair. My financial situation worsens with every passing week (I currently have exactly £7.23 in the whole world), and in order to simply meet all my bills I have to work close to a sixty-hour week. This, along with the worry and the drastic skyrocketing of my alcohol consumption, is killing me. I have a hollow, dead look around my eyes. I feel my brain slowly atrophying away, unable to concentrate on anything, or see anything to completion. So, I can either wallow in depression and self-loathing, ticking off the days until we are either evicted or menaced by bailiffs, or I can look for a new job.
I want out of the hospitality industry for good, so I'm applying for an assistant manager's position at a (rather classy) cookware shop in town. I don't have any previous experience in retail, so I can't just submit a CV and a quick cover note reading "Damn, I'm good. Give me a job.": I need to spell out exactly why I'm ideal for the position, and how my previous experience translates into useful skills for the fast-paced world of selling pots and pans. Which, in my opinion, it does. As a professionally-trained chef and self-confessed gadget freak, cookware is something I'm intimately familiar with. I have extensive experience in both managerial and customer-service rôles (you don't think this level of bitterness is natural, do you?). I'm a university graduate, from one of the country's better universities at that. I'm articulate, intelligent and quick to learn. Before actually getting to know me, people have told me that I'm also quite charming. So why can't I write a neat little cover letter modestly explaining all of this without sounding like a half-mad, stuffy fifty-something writing to his MP to complain about the prevalence of fag ends littering the gutters?
I hope to remain your obt. servant,
Deiniol Geraint Jones