Thursday, October 09, 2008

My life is a choose your own adventure...

Except in my case, it's not so much of a choice. But then, those "choose your own adventures" rarely were. Given the option of talking to the creepy old man or the ugly woman, I always wanted to "stay quiet, listen, and then pick the more rational of choices" which for reasons that escape me, was never actually an option. You had to pick a door to go through and were given no clues to help you choose. It was "You go through the left door - turn to page 60" and "You go through the right door - turn to page 72." On page 60 was a tiger that ate you (leaving me to wonder, what, was it the world's most quiet tiger? How come the previous page didn't say "There are two doors, the left one smells slightly of cat and you can hear heavy footsteps and some faint purring?") and meanwhile on page 72 you find a man holding a knife to your throat and your two options are to "Laugh and say you've entered the wrong room - turn to page 48 or Try out a judo move - turn to page 23" when I know very well what my decision would be, to HOLD FREAKIN' STILL!

Can you tell how much I didn't really like Choose Your Own Adventure novels? I used to just read them front to back or just look for the funny deaths. Sometimes I would work backwards from the ending I liked best (often a hilarious death) to see what moves had placed you there. I was certainly not fond of being forced to chose between two options without any hints as to the result or discussion on the matter.

And that is where my life seems to stand.

There is so much going on in my life, dissertation, economic, residency... that I cannot plan beyond the next event. And I don't even know what that event will be. With this many variables, I also can't make plans for all eventualities because there is just so little that I can know or control about the future of many of these things.

So the page in my life right now reads: Page 29: You've decided to continue working on this dissertation! It's hard work but it's going well. Suddenly everything changes!
Did you get residency? if yes, turn to page 7, if no, turn to 25.
Did you lose your home? if yes, turn to page 193, if no, turn to page 8.
Did you finish your dissertation? if yes, turn to page 49, if no, turn to page 9.

On page 7 I get the choice to continue working on my dissertation (page 75) or get a job (57), or do both (36). To work on my dissertation takes me back to page 29 to either enter a continual rut of flipping between 7 and back again until I can reach page 9, or perhaps I'll get lucky and lose my home so I can turn to page 8, if I get a job I may or may not still lose my home (pages 193 or 8) and I may or may not be able to finish my dissertation (page 49 and 92) so I may or may not be able to get a good job (100 and 121), if I do both, I die of exhaustion (on page 36). On page 25 I have to chose between Mälmo and California, on 193 I chose between California and Ebeltoft and on page 8 I am returned to waiting for residency and dissertation writing.

How can anyone plan for anything when your life is reduced to this?

The Danish Boy has to pick what job he wants for the last 6 months of his internship and we have no way of knowing which is the best option. Any of his choices could put us in the room with the tiger. Or they could lead us into a room with the treasure, the bad guy knocked unconscious on the floor by the bowling ball I accidently dropped on page 12 and we all live happily ever after.

Why is it that life is so often reduced to book metaphors?

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