Dr. Now What?

So, a lot has happened in 2013.  I finished Dishonored . . .
I played the shit out of Borderlands 2 (including all 4 expansion packs--what a dork!).  Personally, I like the Siren.
I published a lyrical essay in the Kartika Review about the last days of my Japanese obāsan's life + her battle with dementia.
I finally received my contributor's copies of my short story that was published in Fiction International
I defeated the final boss in Final Fantasy XIII-2, which was fucking hard, man!
For the first time in my adult life, one of my two fave college football teams was ranked #1 in graduation rates + #1 in the BCS at the end of the regular season (before getting their ass kicked by Alabama).  The national championship game may not have been pretty, but I'm still crazy proud of ND for going 12-0 against four ranked teams.  I think this augurs well for Brian Kelly + Irish fans.
I saw the Chagall mural that literally changed my life as a Chicago teenager (+ also heard the Smiths playing in my head)
I experienced a real Winter for the first time in four fucking years.  Here's Zoe captivated (horrified) by Chicago's brutal wind chill
I flew back to LA for my thesis defense, hung out with some great friends + walked around Venice Beach (pictured)
I passed my thesis defense with flying colors (or so my committee chair said)
I turned 39, which really scared the fuck out of me, but at least both numbers are divisible by 3 (my fave number, dude)

I  finished my dissertation + became a doctor!

I finished playing Bioshock Infinite on both medium + hard levels (not 1999-I kept running out of $$$).  And maybe, just maybe, I had a small crush on  Elizabeth.  I also fucking loved the quantum mechanics narrative at the end, which was brilliant.

So yes, by all means, I've had a few seminal moments in my life since the beginning of 2013, some of them huge, others simply fun + self-defining.  But the problem with getting your PhD (if getting a PhD can be a problem) is that you go from have a clear-cut path for 4-6 years (4 in my case) with guaranteed funding, amazing conversations in + outside seminar + a sense of purpose, you get to vaporize a shitload of life-changing novels (which you can't really appreciate because you're reading them too fast), evolve intellectually, work with some of the best fiction writers + scholars in the whole damn world, live in a cool (+ totally unsustainable) city like LA + exist in a perfectly linear trajectory for all of grad school.

But now what?  I just went from one of the most pivotal moments in life ("I'm so awesome!") to being unemployed ("I'm so sad!).  I went from knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life to having no idea what I'm doing, from having enough cash to buy so many books + posthipster clothes my heart could almost burst, to being gradually poorer, from hoping for the best situation with academic jobs to considering the crappiest comp jobs you could imagine at the lowliest community colleges, just to get by.  It's something you don't wanna think about while you're pounding away on your dissertation because you can't even think straight when you have a soft deadline for your thesis defense + a hard deadline for submitting your dissertation to the Graduate School for formatting.  But once you're done with all that, you look around + you go:  fuck, now what do I do?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm an eternal optimist.  I believe in people.  I believe in myself.  I believe that good things will happen.  I could get a literary agent next week.  My second novel could be accepted for publication by an indie publisher next month.  My collection of short stories could be accepted for publication sometime in Autumn.  I could get an email for an interview for one of the many academic jobs I applied to, like tomorrow.   But the thing is, my life as an aspiring literary fiction writer + professor-to-be is one big contingency plan, a perpetual lesson in professional + existential uncertainty.  Things can work out.  I believe things will work out.  But right now, I have to say it kinda blows.

Shoutouts from the Universe Part 2

I'm still not sure how Google alerts missed this one but I won't complain.  I feel I should be grateful to get any press as a writer, moreover relatively good press.

Here's the part about my experimental short story, "When Silence is an Old Warehouse and Love is a Pocketful of Rocks":

In case you can't read that because you're not an Air Force pilot/weren't born with x-ray vision/never got the cyborg optical enhancements for your Sweet-16, here's what it says:

Many of the most interesting pieces of fiction examine or undermine ideas of speaker, information, or the traditional narrative arc. One notable love story about communication and art, by Jackson Bliss, labels each paragraph as either "Cubes," "Spheres," Cylinders," or "Cones." The speaker is self-consciously prolix, by turns witty and earnest, and the drama he recounts over an uninitiated conversation is handled nicely. 

Now, to be honest, I find nothing insightful about this review.  I don't personally think the narrator is prolix, though I agree he's self-conscious. I'm not convinced that my short story is about "communication + art" either as much as I think it's about the male gaze, invented alternative realities + romantic speculation.  It's about the way in which art theory/art history filters the way we understand + identify our reality.  It's also about the delusional genius/endless violence of the human mind.  Lastly, this short story is about one-way love.  The educated observer/narrator is in love with a girl he's never talked to.  She's in love with a painting.  They mirror their one-sided relationship both to each other + to their objets d'art.  But like I really care?  More than anything, I'm just glad someone's reading my shit.  On that level, I'm ecstatic. 

1st Story Accepted in 2011

¡Yo, por fin! The drought is finally over. It's been a year and a half (actually, nineteen months) since my last story was accepted + I admit, there were many days where it looked really bleak, but fortunately for me, that drought is now officially OVER. Just a few minutes ago, I got an email from Hal Jaffe at Fiction International telling me that my conceptual story, "When Silence Is a Old Warehouse and Love is a Pocketful of Rocks" was accepted. The truth: I'm fucking ecstatic! FI has published some fucking dope literary luminaries such as William Burroughs, Robert Coover, Joyce Carol Oates, Allen Ginsberg, J.M. Coetzee + Bessie Head, just to name a few. Anyway, here is the acceptance letter:

Hello Mr Bliss,

Sorry it's taken a while to get back to you.

I like your text, "When Silence Is a Old Warehouse and Love is a Pocketful of Rocks" and would be pleased to publish it in FI's Ways of Seeing issue.

Please send an electronic version (word.doc) to my assistant M****** M***** and cc me.

Include a brief contributor's note and your home address.

Many thanks,

Hal Jaffe, editor