Under the tree

Today, while bumbling around the internet, I came across the Wikipedia entry for Leonid Rogozov, famous for having undertaken an auto-appendectomy. He took out his own appendix because he was the only doctor in a research facility on a Soviet Antarctic Expedition over 1000 miles from the nearest Soviet station. I can’t think of anything more badass and I’m vaguely thinking of writing an epic poem or radio documentary in his honour.

I, too, am somewhat badass. And I have a yen for adventure. For three years, I’ve been promising myself an adventure. Once the PhD was over, I was going to see the world. I was going to write my book.

My original plan was to be a pilgrim, travelling the world giving CELTA courses – they only last four weeks, they happen all over the world, very few people are qualified to give them and I get paid very well for them.

Then there was the Vegas plan, somewhat more elaborate, involving a university job and lots and lots of sequins. Then, of course, there was the job I applied for in Vietnam, which didn’t involve quite as many sequins.

I think I need to go to America. I need to have my Vegas time. I don’t want to gamble. I want to sit and watch the fountains at the Bellagio. I want to see the fake Eiffel Tour and ride in a fake gondola on a fake Venetian canal. I want to see Celine and Britney. I want to be somewhere where it’s OK to wear ostrich feathers and sequins on a Tuesday morning. I really do want to have my own show. Dr Phellony Q Starlight PhD presents “Doctor in the House”. I know the show. I would come flying in to the theme music for Murder She Wrote. I would tell raunchy stories, tinged with humour and heartbreak. I would make them laugh. I would have a routine worked out to the Dogtanian and the Muskahounds theme music. I would dispense wise advice. It would totally be educational too. And I’d have Beyoncé’s Love On Top dance worked out perfectly. Including the leotard.

I now know I didn’t get the job in Vegas. And I’ve stopped directing all my energy there. In fact, I phoned them yesterday to confirm the position and a bored HR worker at the university confirmed that the main position I had applied for had been closed.

I really want the Vegas thing. I could throw myself at getting it. I could write to every teacher and department in every educational institution in the area and I’d get something in the end.

And if not, there are plenty of English language schools in America. I’m ludicrously overqualified. I could push myself on them, pull out every connection I have, write to everyone and everywhere. I would eventually find an employer willing to get me a visa.

It might take a few months, but if I really dedicated myself to getting to Vegas, or at least to the US, I could do it.

Or I could wait until after I make it big. And I could then apply for a Type O visa to the States. That’s the visa you get for being an Extraordinary Alien. It’s a visa who have extraordinary talents in the arts, sciences, sports, education etc. A prize like a Nobel will be taken into consideration when granting an O visa. It was on an O visa that Courtney Act, the most famous drag queen in Australia, moved to America.

But there are other Vegases. It would be relatively easy for me to find a job in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Istanbul, Berlin, or Paris, all cities with moderate-to-high sequin-availability.

Or I could go with my original plan. And spend the year hopping from place to place around the world, and get a novel written. I accidentally agreed to an interview to spend November in Northern Saudi Arabia tomorrow. Vegas it ain’t. But it would certainly be an adventure. And if I’m looking for time to write, I can’t imagine there being many distractions in my Saudi compound. And it would pay as much for one four-week course as I usually get for two courses.

But I can’t do that to my mother. When it looked like I might be going to Vietnam, she wore God out with her prayers. She said when I told her I’d done an interview for a job there, she’d had to sit down for over half an hour and she couldn’t speak because she was in such shock. And she’s literally been praying for me to get a lecturing job in Waterford or Limerick. I don’t know how to tell her that if I was offered a job in either place, I’d turn it down. And she worked hard trying to persuade me to go to the UK instead of Asia.

It’s not as if I licked my desire to travel off the stones. As my mother herself admits, she drove through communist Yugoslavia in the 1970s with two small children. And she stole a bit of the Berlin Wall, while it was still the Berlin Wall, while being watched by an armed East German soldier. In the 1960s, when everyone else went to Galway or Wexford on their honeymoon, my parents went to the Swiss and Austrian Alps. And in 1975, my mother gave up her job and went with my dad while he taught English to foreigners abroad for a year. And when they retired, they decamped to the Turks and Caicos Islands, and then Zambia, and the Tanzania on the missions, while in their sixties.

And yet, she’s convinced that it’s time for me to stop. It’s time to get a suburban semi-detached house in Limerick, a pension and sit around waiting for death. (And obviously find Jesus, a wife and children too, in that order, although it’s been a while since we’ve had that conversation.)

And here I am, trying to find a way to get to Vegas and dress like a ladeee.

Or going to Saudi Arabia for a month. My mother has warned me against going to Saudi Arabia for as long as I can remember. And she’s a worrier. And if I go there, and it’s a big “if”, I have no idea what I’d tell her. Could I keep up the pretence of actually being somewhere a bit less scary for a whole month. “Hi Mammy. It’s lovely here in Southampton…No. That’s not a camel you can hear in the background. That’s just a car backfiring.”

The future is big and scary. But like I keep saying, none of these options are bad. All of my choices are good. My future is like a present under a Christmas tree. I don’t know what it is, but it’s exciting.

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