Next Steps

So what is life after Peace Corps?  I wouldn’t quite know yet, since I’m in a “second lockdown,” as one PCV put it.  But in a week and a half I’m looking to move back home (that is, my home, not home of record home) and restart things.

I don’t really have anywhere left to pick up; I had dropped my graduate studies, given that I wanted to do something in life beyond reading journal articles and playing departmental politics.  I don’t have much of a job to go back to, beyond one that pays the bills; even if that is the status quo, I’ve never much cared for complacently following it (just because everyone else makes themselves miserable just to be “adults” doesn’t mean i’m going down without a fight!).  So now that I have a nearly blank slate, what are my new goals?

My main goal is to play music.  I’m skeptical about being able making a career out of it.  However, I at least want to make it a serious hobby.  So I’m looking to practice the hell out of some mandolin (and hopefully violin as well), and by December be up on stages, at least for open mikes.

Why December?  Because that’s when I can actually start looking into other options.  I can start reapplying for graduate schools; although I hated grad school in the humanities, I’ll give the sciences a shot.  It’ll at least be a different kind of awful.  Linguistics and economics are my top two choices; maybe poli sci as well.  At the same time, I’ll also apply for the foreign services exam to become a diplomat and get back to travelling.  That test is, by all reports, difficult, so I want some time to study.  Then I’ll be waiting for at least a year most likely to be placed somewhere (and grad school wouldn’t be much better, since I’d be waiting until August to actually go).  Finally, I might look at opportunities to teach English overseas.   Like grad school, it’s not my first choice, but going out and travelling (especially to East Asia) sure beats most prospects here, unless I luck out and land the perfect job, or find an awesome relationship, or ideally both.

So in closing, some musical and philosophical thoughts: I’m fascinated by alternative music systems, as I’ve mentioned before.  I was thinking today about how this relates to life (as I do about most things musical, or indeed most things period).  I don’t like completely atonal music.  Music needs some boundaries in order to be what it is.  Letting music be “free” might be an interesting experiment, but it’s not really music any longer.  However, just because music needs boundaries doesn’t mean that we need to keep the same old ones.  There’s room to explore, to create new limits or see what other people have done differently.  Creativity and progress cannot be anarchic; they thrive on rules, even as they question them.  (Similarly for dance: those people who come in and “just feel the music” are often the worst dancers on the floor, flailing around and being a menace to everyone around them.  You need discipline and practice to be the most creative and free.)  So both disregarding all rules and remaining tied to any particular rule are stagnating actions.