Dinner With My Wife.

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.


  1. Curiously enough, I was facing the same problem just before today (and yesterday). In the end, the decision I made went against all that I believe in; all that I know. (I don’t even know

    It makes me incredibly sad, yet at the same time, for numerous reasons, I couldn’t ever bear to embrace the things I’ve defined myself by.

    Everything’s more certain, yet nothing has my faith anymore.

  2. The question is in what you are trying to achieve, if it is to be a really good writer, you have already achieved that, this piece and many others in here are fully worthy of publication, it would make a collection of short stories equal to most in the bookshops. The point is that being a writer requires more than being good at writing. Perhaps it is time for you to look at different forms of art, like the art of making a living, there are some excellent examples of great writers who used certain skills, etc etc, there is always a kind of passivity of tone in your writing even when you are describing your anger, it’s like it is something that is happening to you, just a thought, but a more active voice in one might encourage a reverse reflection into the other, anyway, as i say you are already a really good writer and it’s wrong that the way things are at the moment it is very difficult to make a living from good writing but that might be something in the world worth trying to change and not just from a selfish standpoint, so i guess i kinda agree with her, thanks for the beer stranger, he says stubbing out his smoke and looking around the bar,

  3. Thanks for the riveting read. God, so many of us have been at that dinner table. Just wanted to say you really hit a spot with me (and no doubt countless others). All the best.

  4. Go teach English in a foreign country. That’s always my emergency plan – jet off to Bah’ran or Thailand at the drop of a hat. Live like a king off a teacher’s salary in a culture that truly shows economic appreciation for the profession. Gain inspiration. Remove yourself from the monotony. I have two friends who have done it so far. I don’t think they’re ever coming back.

  5. I can’t figure out what the hell I’m doing either.
    Hang in there Randall, and the above posting had a good point… with your zest and talent, you would thrive overseas… my uncle lives in Seoul, teaches English to Koreans and has underwent a complete cultural assimilation. It is almost as if he started over, was reborn into another world…

  6. The only problem with traveling overseas is that I am terrified of air travel. As a child my parents shoved me into airplanes and took me all over the world. As an adult I resolved to renounce airplanes. However this is slowly changing, I recently traveled to Australia- but I kissed the ground when I stepped off the plane and swore never to do it again.

    I am off to my ambiguous job as an English Teacher. Today we are going to learn about “writing about your shadow.” God knows, I have a lot to say on this subject. Thank you for all the insightful comments- I will take all of your words to heart and attempt to construct something positive upon them.

    Write on!!!….and cheers Paul.

  7. (Jo’s brief therapy session): I don’t know, I’ve had pretty decent jobs in journalism/editing but even when I was reasonably high up the food chain, I never woke up and thought oh work, great, get me there, never felt fulfilled, not once…..there are only three things that I love, reading, writing, talking about lit……I could have been a student ad infinitum, so I relate to your working life malaise. And I used to get just the same said to me, why are you whining, get on with it or bury it and I got so pissed off but you know what, sometimes you do just have to get on with it, I’ve wasted huge chunks of my life waiting for stuff to happen instead of grabbing it by the balls, you’ve got to make it happen, since I became a little (yes, only a little) more proactive on that front I feel far better, more in control……..that said, I really empathise…….
    and Paul is right, you are a great writer and could easily bundle many of these pieces together for publishing…….one thing though: quit bitching about Shakespeare and F Scott (two of the greatest……..though Tender is the Night is far superior to The Great Gatsby and I never know why the other gets all the glory) 🙂

  8. It is nice to know that some of my readers are incredibly wise. Now, if only I could put your words into action- there may be no need for this blog.

  9. Randall, are you giving me the bitch, laughing…….oh no, I am not wise, very, very far from it, I’ve a long history of mistakes and missed opportunities……..and we need the blog, don’t go putting anything that radical into action.

  10. I think we must of been in the same history class. Thank you for expressing the possible worth of this blog. I seem to have about a hundred views a day and am lucky if I get one or two comments. I want to believe the reason for this is the fear people have of identifying that they have read the things written here. I am thrilled whenever I receive a comment from you…..and they are all usually clever and wise 🙂

  11. I’ve never understood if one is supposed to take comfort in not being alone (where’s the originality, right?) — but, you are not alone.

    Believe it or not, I’m also a high school English teacher (well, was). I had a couple good years and had many students tell me I changed their lives and parents thanking me for getting their kids to read . . . and yet, I agree with you, there was just something unfulfilling about it. They always say “one good student is enough” and so on, but I always found the opposite: namely, one bad student can ruin a good class. I found it painful to have even one student dislike me, childish person that I am. I was too immature to be a teacher.

    So what am I doing now? I’m going to law school. Somehow I think this is going to be a big mistake, but it’s too late to jump ship now. I’m just going to have to make something good out of it.

    Anyhow, what I am trying to say is . . . actually I have no advice. If you figure this thing out before I do let me know how you solved it, because I’ve got the bug as bad as you do.

  12. I take great comfort in your perspective. Same goes for you, if you figure this out let me know! I am determined to prove that Sartre was incorrect when he said- “there is no exit.”

  13. I think you’re right, the number of comments is a reflection of a society that is sadly repressed, not the quality of your writing………sex is fundamental to everything and yet hidden, ridiculous frankly. Keep on writing, you, I love your stuff, be it about sex or other things 🙂

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