I had a miserable dinner with my wife tonight. We fight like addicts, unable to relate in any other way. Night after night another argument occurs as randomly as changing weather. An inability to relate keeps us separate and keeps my heart sore. Tonight I expressed some feelings that I have about my job. I expressed apprehension about working as an English Teacher because of the low pay, my inability to spell, my inability to grasp the rules of grammar and my disdain for Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby (which I have to teach). I told her that I felt like what I had to do to work as a Teacher was standardize my mind and teach things that the state mandates that I teach despite the fact that I find it all terribly uninteresting and irrelevant to life. Lately I have been experiencing a lot of doubt about my work as a High School Teacher. Is this what I really want to do with my life? Long hours, little pay and not much glamor or reward? I expressed these sentiments and more- and the reaction I recieved from my wife pissed me off.
Love is based upon the ability to connect. If there is only a remainder of love than connection will be difficult. One firm symptom of a fading relationship is the inability to connect- which means dissolving love. The moment my wife started to fire back at me I felt my blood pressure raise. My heart skipped beats and I drank more wine. I became angrier by the minute. “We all have to do things that we do not agree with in our work…this is a realistic part of the society which we live in,” she began. “You just need to commit to something and stick with it. I believe in you and I think you have great potential as a Teacher, but your excuses and apprehension piss me off.” Her voice went up, “I know that you want to be a Writer and make a living that way but you have not done it and frankly that is not the way the world works. You are a great great Writer Randall, but you need to really start thinking about how you are going to make a living. If you are going to write novels, great- but you have not yet, and you are almost 37 years old. You need to get it together and figure out what you are going to do. If you do not want to teach than you need to come up with a game plan really quickly!” “But Kurt Vonnegut worked as a car salesman all through his forties,” I replied. “You are not Kurt Vonnegut.”
My blood began to boil. I began mumbling “bitch” under my breath. I could feel my heart rapidly beating and then the words came rushing out of my lungs. “Your attitude is not helping my confusion,” I began- “I am just trying to talk to you about how I feel. This is not about you and how you feel. I feel like I always need to keep the truth of my feelings repressed because if I open up to you and talk to you about what I am really feeling you get angry or mean. You can not handle the truth and it pisses me off!!” My wife began to roll a cigarette, “I am just so tired of your lack of clarity, your inability to stick with something and make something of your life!!” “Bitch,” snuck out of my mouth. I was feeling unheard and unappreciated (I wanted to mention the years and years that I have spent writing short stories and making paintings. I wanted to tell her that my stories and paintings will be appreciated by the masses long after I am dead. I wanted to remind her of the legend that she was sitting across from, but I slandered her instead). I do not often call people names but I could not help expressing the sentiment. “What did you call me, why don’t you call me that to my face,” she said as I excused myself from the dinner table. I came into my studio and tried to get control of my rage.
For the past twenty years I have been trying to figure out what to do with my life. I have written many short stories, thought a lot about writing plays and novels and painted many paintings but every other pursuit in my life has failed to keep my interest. I have worked as a Waiter, Shoe Salesman, Mortician, Ticket Salesperson, Teacher, Tutor, Pizza Maker, Dog Walker and Administrative Assistant. I am as dis-interested in a career as my cat is in hanging out with dogs. I am a man alone on an island fighting his own cause, waiting for great things to happen while swimming through the sea of society with barley enough money to make it through the day. If only I could figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, then maybe my wife and I would get along and my heart would stop hurting so much.