The Obscure List of Career Options for an English Major

Karl’s latest journal entry, in which he discusses literature with his professor and then somebody stalks him.

September 30, 2011

                I’m not sure college is right for me. College is scary, and I mean that in the sense that it’s like a bad horror movie, cause now I have a stalker. Plus, I also have this weird, deep, personal connection with Dr. Corddry, who’s weird to begin with. One day he came into class with clown makeup on his face, and he used his tie (that he took from his pocket) to wipe it off (and then he put it back in his pocket). But I was talking with Dr. Corddry the other day after class about other English classes and whether or not I should still major in English, and if all the classes are about post-colonial literature.

                “No, some of them are about pre-colonial literature,” he said.

                “What can I do with an English degree?”

                “You can teach English.”

                “What are other English classes like?”

                “There are literature classes, creative writing classes, linguistics classes if you like talking about mouths and fricatives, and rhetoric classes if you want to be a lawyer.”

                “I don’t think I want any of that.”

                “Then you’re doomed to be a professor.”

                “I’m gonna have to teach things like Season of Migration to the North?”

                “Not necessarily,” he said.

                That’s one of the books I’m reading for the class, Season of Migration to the North. I have to write a paper on it and how it depicts culture. I’m an English Major, not an Anthropology Major! What’s all this about culture? That’s when my thoughts sort of jumped from one thing to another all of a sudden. I thought about culture, then German culture, and then about The Book Thief, and then I thought about English 254, and then I realized that Dr. Corddry probably knows things about who teaches that class. I don’t think my thoughts ever went that fast before. I felt like that one guy, Shawn Sherlock Spencer the Mentalist or whatever his name is.

                “Do you know who teaches English 254?” I asked him.

                “This semester that’s Dr. Gardner.”

                “What’s it about?”

                “Holocaust Fiction.”

                “That’s a thing?”

                “Anything that appears in literature and also happened in history is a thing. Under those two criteria, you can teach a class on any subject.”

                “That sounds like a depressing class.”

                “It was when I taught it,” he said proudly. “But now Dr. Gardner, who’s a hippie, wants it to be about media and not the Holocaust, or even about fiction! Now she’s making it about transcendentalist communes in the Yucatan.” I think that’s what he said. It’s what I heard, anyway. We talked for a while about literature and different styles and genres and all those things. His office is really tiny, and the light hanging from the ceiling kept shining off his bald head. I think I almost went blind when he turned to look at his computer and aimed his head at me like a laser. We talked about all the different reasons I had for majoring in English, and after two or three hours we’d come up with two. I could be a professor or a writer. I think we mentioned librarian, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a library. I already spent my birthday in Cline, and that was depressing.

                Anyway, after I got out of Dr. Corddry’s office, I had a plan for my paper on Season of Migration to the North, and also felt more comfortable talking to him about school and crap like that. That’s good, right? Being able to talk to your teachers? It helps, right? Anyway, I got out of the Liberal Arts building, and it was dark and rainy outside. If you don’t know Flagstaff, it’s this “Dark Sky” city, so the whole place is dark all the time to make it easier to see the stars. Only it was cloudy and rainy, so there weren’t any stars out. Or there were stars but you couldn’t see them. My point is that it was dark, and when I walked down the pedway, I heard these footsteps behind me. Big deal, right? It’s a campus; people walk around on it. People have feet and they’re not afraid to use them.

                I turned around and I didn’t see anybody. I kept walking and kept hearing somebody behind me. I turned around and I didn’t see anybody. This went on until I get to Cowden, and I still saw nobody around me for miles. So I went into Cowden, opened up the door with my access card security thing, and when I opened the other door that should lock and keep non-Cows out of the den, this guy in a gorilla suit popped up! A damn gorilla suit! Or costume or something. Don’t believe me? I’m telling the truth. Some guy, or girl, in a gorilla costume suit popped into the space between the two doorways and looked at me as I held the door open. And then he or maybe she moved past me and into Cowden. So now there’s a person in a gorilla suit costume in Cowden. I can’t trust the hallways anymore knowing that a person in a gorilla suit costume is out there, somewhere, lurking in the halls or this weird room with a piano and uncomfortable couches.

                Is this really how college is supposed to work? You get stalked by gorillas and shoot the breeze with your professors about transcendentalist communes in the Yucatan? I don’t even know where the Yucatan is! I don’t know what to do with my life. I guess become a professor. Or maybe I’ll rent a gorilla costume or go live in the Yucatan. My life is just going downhill, I guess.

Good luck with your lives. You’re probably sucking slightly less even than me, right now.


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