My interview with myself is taking place on Monday morning at 8:43am in my kitchen. I am sitting at my round kitchen table, which looks out into my backyard where there is a large lawn and an even larger Mulberry tree. My German shepherd, who is obsessed with the frenetic squirrels running around in the trees, is currently hyper-focused upon one squirrel in particular and cannot stop chasing it around. I am feeling rather annoyed that my dog cannot just sit still, relax and enjoy the morning. There is an empty bowl of brown rice cereal on the kitchen table with the spoon still resting inside the bowl. There is also an empty mug, sitting besides the bowl, which earlier was filled with green tea. My hair is not brushed and I am still wearing the same clothes that I slept in.
Interviewer: Good morning Randall. Thank you for meeting with me at such an early time. I know that you are not a morning person.
Randall: Good morning. Not a problem. It is true that I am not much of a morning person but it is a pleasure to be here. I am sorry that I am not more dressed up for our interview but since it is taking place in our home I did not think you would mind.
Interviewer: No I do not mind at all. Is there anything that you need before we begin this interview?
Randall: Actually a little bit more green tea would be nice and if it is at all possible to get our dog to stop running around outside that would be helpful also.
Interviewer: Well let me see what I can do.
[Interviewer and Randall take a five-minute or so break to boil some more hot water and to try and get the dog to relax. Randall suggests that I feed the dog since Randall has not done that yet.]
Interviewer: Ok, so I have given our dog a raw hide to chew on which seems to have calmed her down. Is the green tea to your liking?
Randall: Yes it is is. Thanks for taking care of these things.
Interviewer: Not a problem. So should we begin the interview?
Randall: Why not.
Interviewer: I guess my first question for us is why did you want to conduct an interview with yourself? Some people might see this as a very strange, unstable and even selfish thing to do.
Randall: Well first off, if people chose to view my interviewing myself as strange, selfish, unstable or even ridiculous that is ok with me. I have always encouraged people to think for themselves and I welcome adversity or negative criticism. I think that divergent points of view are important for intelligent and interesting discourse. If I needed everyone to think like I do, or to agree with me- what a bore. As far as wanting to interview myself- why not? I have lived for 41 years now and have been waiting for someone to want to interview me. No one has come along wanting to do so, so I have decided to hell with it, why not just go ahead and interview myself. Plus I am tired of watching other people being interviewed. I wanted to see what it is like being the one being interviewed.
Interviewer: Well you make a good point. One can wait an entire lifetime for a person to come along who wants to interview them- for most people that person never comes. I think that every human on the planet should be interviewed at least once in his or her lifetime, since it is my belief that every person has a unique and captivating life story to tell. If you had to summarize what your unique and captivating life story would be what would you say?
Randall: Hmmmm. That is a good question Randall. I guess I would say that it would be how I developed into the man that I am today. As you know it has been a bizarre journey. We have been many different people in our lifetime and I find it interesting to have ended up where we have. I grew up in a rather economically privileged situation. I was raised in a country club where my worst fear was getting hit in the head with a golf ball. That is not actually true but I think it is funny to say. Even though I grew up in a seemingly safe and privileged home I feared many things. Probably more things than I should have. I wanted to be a professional tennis player but that did not work out. I almost did not graduate high school. I went to a very expensive private college where I was totally disinterred in school and obsessed with fitting in, women and partying. When I got out of college I was lost and managed to spend my graduation gift of $10,000 dollars in less than three or four months. Thus began a decade and a half of living in what I consider to be hand to mouth conditions and working at odd minimum wage jobs. I worked as a mortician’s assistant, a shoe salesman, a waiter, a bartender, a suitcase salesman, a supermarket checker, a physical therapists assistant and eventually a high school teacher. During this time I wanted to be an artist and a writer but the problem was that I spent more time reading and hanging out than I did making actual work (even though I did make a good deal of work). At one point I was obsessed with wanting to be my generations greatest writer and painter but now I think it is fair to state that I was very misguided, confused and often intoxicated.
Interviewer: Who do you blame for putting these strange and romantic literary and artistic ideals and expectations into our head?
Randall: I mainly blame Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller and Charles Burkowski.
Interviewer: How about Franz Kafka, Rimbaud and Artaud?
Randall: Yes them also.
Interview: So is it fair to say that our life story is one of from riches to rags?
Randall: Maybe not rags but definitely used clothes and cheap food (if you do not count the nice meals we ate with my parents and the occasional and generous shopping sprees that my father would take me on). I would also add that it is a story of from riches to rags but also back again to maybe not riches but a kind of comfortability and dignity.
Interviewer: I know this is not often discussed but is it true that when you were 28 and just a few months away from finishing your master’s degree in English Literature you dropped out?
Randall: It is true. I lost interest. Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Robert Browning, E.M. Forester and other English writers burned me out. Even though I excelled in the graduate program, when it was time for me to write my thesis I realized I did not want the degree anymore. I thought it was too pretentious for me to call myself a master of anything and as a young, idealistic man who had big dreams of worldwide literary recognition- a master’s degree seemed futile and too conventional. So I just stopped working on my thesis and went on with my life.
Interviewer: Do you regret not finishing?
Randall: I do. I suppose that is the main reason why I went back to graduate school much later in life to get my masters degree in Psychology. I no longer consider myself to be much of an idealist and my dreams of worldwide literary recognition have faded away thus allowing me the room within which to pursue other things.
Interviewer: More normal, real world things?
Randall: I suppose so.
[The dog has finished her raw hide and is now pacing around on the deck. Randall seems to be a bit distracted by the dog]
Randall: I just do not understand why she cannot sit down and relax. I love our dog but she paces and paces around all day long. It drives me nuts.
Interviewer: You understand that she is not even a year old yet right?
Randall: I do but still it drives me nuts.
Randall: I don’t know.
Interviewer: Is it fair to say that you are a person who spends a lot of his time in a relaxed state, that you have figured out the art of relaxation and when others cannot relax it annoys you?
Randall: Are you suggesting that I get annoyed with others, dogs and humans, when they are not more like me?
Interviewer: I guess that is what I am getting at. If other people do not behave as you would want them to behave, or even behave like you behave then you are annoyed with them. They drive you nuts?
Randall: I am sure there is some truth to that. What you are suggesting is that I am not a tolerant person.
Interviewer: No, I think you are a very tolerant person- just a bit intolerant towards behavior that is different from your own.
Randall: Hmmmm. Well I would like to think that this is not true but I suppose that there is some truth to it.
Interviewer: Have you had people in your life who have not been tolerant of your behavior? Who have gotten annoyed or angry at you because you have behaved differently than they wanted you to behave?
Randall: I have.
Interview: Well maybe that is where you have learned not to not be tolerant of other people’s behavior that is different from your own.
Randall: You are probably right. Did you come here to interview me or to psychoanalyze me?
Interviewer: I am sorry. I suppose that I am just interested in the kind of person that we are.
Randall: I think that to find out “who we are” is biting off much too much of a subject matter for this short interview.
Interviewer: I suppose you are correct. Lets move on. I know that recently you moved to LA, moved into a new home, got married and began your internship working as a therapist in private practice. How do you feel about all of these big life transitions?
Randall: Well to be honest I am someone who has struggled for a long time. I have had a few really difficult relationships in my life, had serious financial concerns and have suffered from a chronic anxiety condition. For the first time in as long as I can remember, maybe even the first time in my life I can actually say with a firm conviction that my life is blessed. Things are really, really good. My relationships all feel healthy, my marriage is remarkable in every way and moving to LA feels like what it must feel like for someone who has been in jail for 41 years to finally get released. As you know, I moved from the area in which we grew up. I really did not think I was ever going to get out.
Interviewer: Well that is great. I am really happy for us that things are going so well.
Randall: They are and I am happy for us to. I am aware that the flip side of the coin is always there. Things can go horribly wrong horribly at any moment. This is why I am enjoying my life right now, drinking it in so to speak since for most of my life I feel like I was on the other side of the coin. I imagine that one of the greatest feelings in life is to end up in a place that you always wanted to be, but never imagined was possible. I’m enjoying this feeling at the moment.
Interviewer: How is our health holding up?
Randall: Well I must say that it is better than it has been in a long time. Years of struggle and anxiety have certainly weakened me but my Zen meditation practice and the love and support that I receive from my wife has without a doubt saved my life. She waters me with so much love that my roots have become stronger. My anxiety and worry is much less than it has ever been and all in all I feel good. I still struggle with breathing difficulties, restless leg syndrome and occasional obsessive frightening thoughts but things are not nearly as bad as when I lived up north.
Interviewer: I agree with you. I have noticed this as well. I think our wife is some kind of divine intervention. A miracle.
Randall: True. I am grateful for her existence in our life. Where would we be without her?
Interviewer: In a very different place. Probably still anxious and stuck up north.
Interviewer: Well I suppose that it is probably time for us to wrap up this interview. We need to take a shower, get dressed and get on with our day. I have a few final question for you before I go.
Randall: Ask away.
Interviewer: Do you have any big projects in the works? Anything that you are working on for the future?
Randall: You know for so many years I worked on things for the sake of bettering my future. I painted and wrote with future hopes, dreams and expectations in mind. Day after day I worried about how I was going to survive economically and what I was going to do with my life. It was torture. Now I am at a place in my life where I am really taking it one day at a time. I am not as driven to be a successful writer and/or painter as I was two or three years ago. I am now just taking it one day at a time. Today I want to read, work in my garden and go for a walk with my dog. Tomorrow I may decide to write an essay, work on a novel or make a painting. Or maybe not. I am no longer as tortured by the expectations of others and my own expectations. I don’t worry about what I am going to do with my life because I am doing my life right now.
Interviewer: Are you still as worried about money as you once were?
Randall: Maybe a bit but not as much. I may run out of money tomorrow. Ten years ago I would have had tremendous anxiety about this. Now I try to budget my money the best I can and leave the rest up to fate. I am doing my part to create a situation for myself where I have the potential to make a good income. I am just not worrying about the future as much as I used to because I am much more in the moment of my life and for the first time in a long time- I feel that it is the place I deserve to be.
Interviewer: Do you still suffer from feeling like a failure, as you once did?
Randall: Not so much. It is really interesting to me how life evolves, how we change as human beings. Sure I wish that today I was an accomplished writer and artists who was able to pay his bills and be economically comfortable as a result of his art. But I no longer feel like a failure because I have not attained this status. Sometimes when I watch a musician or artist being interviewed I get jealous. I feel envious that they have been able to create a life for themselves, which is a result of doing their art. Just the other day I was watching an interview with my generation’s most successful writer and I felt envious. It must be nice owning a home and eating food that you earned from doing your art. But this is not how my life has worked out and I think I am in the process of making peace with this. It is a tough one though.
Interviewer: Do you still think about writing and making art as much as you used to?
Randall: I thought you said that you only had a few more questions?
Interviewer: I did but as you know we can be very impulsive and when things come up in our mind we usually have to go with it.
Randall: This is true. Yes I think about art and painting all the time. If ideas for stories and paintings were dollar bills I would be a very rich man. Fortunately I have no shortage of ideas. I suppose what I lack most is the motivation to turn these ideas into things. Most days I would rather hang out with my wife, work in the garden, play with my dog, meditate and/or read a book.
Interviewer: I think you give yourself a tough time. You have created a lot of great things and it is ok that you may not be as motivated to make art or write at the moment. You may become motivated again at some point but now is your time to enjoy things as they are in your life and cultivate your next chapter. I actually much prefer your life now to when you were continually worried about what you were going to do with your life.
Randall: I like how you think.
Interviewer: Thank you Randall. I like how you think also.
Randall: Well I suppose we should put away the pen and paper and go get dressed now.
Interviewer: Sounds good.