It has occurred to me recently that the most fitting metaphor for my attempts to find a job are to be found in the ancient Greek myths of Sisyphus and to a lesser extent Tantalus (I think I’m not the only one who had mixed these two characters up with their specifics). Or rather the myth of their punishment for as far as I know I haven’t committed any acts of unspeakable horror as at least one of those men did. And yet I feel like I’m on the receiving end of a punishment, just don’t know from what quarters.

Before I explain, a quick refresher on the classics. Sisyphus is the guy who was condemned to pushing a boulder to the top of the mountain and nearly reaching the top only to have said boulder roll to the bottom again and beginning the task anew. Tantalus – from whose name the word tantalizing derives – had an even more diabolical punishment for he was made to stand knee or waist-deep in a pool of water with a fruit laden vine hanging above him but was perpetually hungry and thirsty. Every time he bent his head to drink some water to attempt to quench his thirst (his hands are not mentioned but they were evidently of no use in his predicament) the level would recede and he never got to so much as moisten his lips or tongue, and the grapes hanging a perfect ripeness just over his lips would similarly move out of reach every time he attempted to bite into one of them.

And how or why do I feel comparable to these wretched men? My job search that’s why. I’ve lost count of the number of applications I’ve written and submitted over the past year and a half. These letters (and statements and etc. etc.) are my personal equivalent of the Sisyphean boulder – except that sometime the boulder rolls down before I’ve even made it halfway there. And when on the rare occasions I break free of that myth and do manage to reach the top – er land an interview – it has been followed even more heartbreakingly with a punishment to rival that meted out to Tantalus. I can view the fruit in all its juicy perfection and even feel the water in its cool comfort but am ever denied the pleasures of partaking either.

I won’t bother to go into specifics and am not asking for sympathy. In fact I’d go so far as to say I’m actively discouraging any well-meaning comments about hanging in there, something better around the corner, not taking it personally etc. Am just having a public fist-shaking and rant session to relieve my frustrations and  intense discouragement at the job market and my situation. Having suffered what I view is a personal defeat by having to spend a 4th year at AUC when my original fellowship was only for 3, I feel like I’m entitled to a public rendition of the opposite of a victory dance. Just before I am led to the altar of Scientific Thinking like a bleating sacrificial lamb to the slaughter.

As for that last metaphor, heck, I’m in Egypt, it’s Ramadan and Eid is fast approaching. baa...