Anniversary post: your economy doesn't interest me much

A little history

I graduated from college in 2007, and that fall decided to pursue a longtime dream of mine: teaching English in Russia, where I had studied abroad as an undergraduate. In the fall of 2008, I returned to the United States to look for the kind of white collar, middle class job many of my readers no doubt enjoy.

A few weeks after I landed stateside, I was standing in the atrium of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania watching the stock market collapse as Congress voted down the first version of the TARP legislation. The Great Recession had begun, and I proceeded to scratch out a meager (though cheerful as always) living as a temporary office rat while I applied for hundreds of full-time jobs.

But no one was hiring.

After a year of living hand-to-mouth, I'd had enough and decided to escape the so-called "real world" (which didn't feel particularly real to me) and return to school. I studied in an advanced, federally-funded program to develop Russian fluency, then was admitted to a prestigious doctoral program in Slavic languages and literatures.

It was at that point, settled into a pleasant, walkable New England city with a plethora of CVS stores, that I went from applying for the occasional rewards-earning credit card and meeting minimum spending requirements with Kiva loans, to identifying the most lucrative cards I could use to manufacture spend on an ongoing basis.

My responsibilities at the university were negligible, besides teaching a section of undergraduate Russian each semester and pretending to care about 18th century Russian literature, so I wrote an e-book, manufactured more and more spend, and began writing this blog.

At the same time, I looked around at my classmates and realized that the chances of turning a PhD into the kind of tenure-track position they were all aspiring to were nonexistent. I like to gamble, but I wasn't interested in spending 6 years gambling on a career in academia.

So on May 13, 2014, I left New England and the university behind to dedicate myself to the present endeavor.

Your economy doesn't interest me much

In the last year, I've received one or two comments and e-mails each month either berating or interrogating me about my lack of interest in the traditional job market. As I hope the foregoing makes clear, the traditional job market wasn't interested in me. There was certainly a window, after returning from Russia, when the right corporate gig could probably have lured me into a 40 year career, house in the suburbs, and matched 401(k) contributions.

Entering the job market when I did, those jobs weren't on offer. And rather than hanging onto what was an increasingly-unrealistic fantasy, I adjusted my expectations to suit reality. In the reality I was thrust into, the only bets worth making were sure bets. That meant federally-financed educational programs, guaranteed university funding, and finally working for myself, where my livelihood depends exclusively on my own ingenuity and effort.

Readers seem to have two reactions to my decision. On the one hand, some people try to "explain" to me that my writing and manufactured spending can't consume every waking hour, so I could theoretically work a full-time job in addition to all the extracurricular activities I'm currently doing for fun and profit.

But other readers castigate me for not being "productive" and working a "real job," and those are the comments I have the most difficult time processing. Since no one has yet commented to actually offer me job, I can only conclude that what I'm being blamed for isn't not working, but rather not caring. And they're exactly right. I don't care about your economy.

Your economy just wasn't that into me, and I lost interest.

Caring is so baked into the cake of the American job market that it's no surprise many readers don't even realize they're doing it. But for me, caring would feel hopelessly masochistic. Writing resumes and cover letters, creating online accounts with hundreds of corporate job websites, and submitting application after application in the vain hope of securing the lifestyle many of my readers take for granted is not something I'm capable of doing any longer.

Because I already did it all, and in vain.


I'm nothing if not practical, and I know perfectly well that no deal lasts forever. When manufactured spend dries up completely and my blog subscribers abandon me, you can be sure I'll be there in the mailroom at Goldman Sachs, trying to catch the attention of the bond traders so I can make a quick fortune before destroying the world economy again.

But in the meantime, you'll find me right here. I'll keep writing the best blog I can as long as you keep reading.

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