I feel like I've competed in some kind of marathon that took the last five years and is finally over, which is funny. Not funny jokelaughs, but funny odd. Things aren't going well professionally. I'm in very bad shape there, and it's getting worse by the minute. There is no place for me in this world. I've finally stopped expecting to have any kind of success. I'm a failure in that aspect of my life. It's time to accept that and figure out what to do next. I will never have a good job, make any money, do something for a living that fulfills me in any way. I have hit a wall that cannot be moved. I don't fit in this world. I think I was born too late. I should have been alive when you could get a job at a newspaper or a movie studio as a mischievous teenage imp and work your way up through the haze of cigar smoke and bourbon fumes and do something real without having to piss around in academia listening to some sandaled bore talk about the symbolism of his eating disorder. Of course, those days were not kind to women, gays, or people lacking a pallor reminiscent of peach and chalk, but some kind of shit is always fucked up in every era. I may be an idiot, but I think we're going to see the collapse of industrialized, capitalist society in my lifetime, and I'm probably going to die of starvation and/or murder at the hands of a marauding gang of post-apocalyptic hooligans because instead of honing my survival skills, I went to college like a fucking tool. I don't like the options life gives you. For the most part, I don't like life. It's so mediocre and repetitive and dull. I don't believe you make your own luck, because I've been alive longer than five minutes. This place is a shithole, for the most part, and we're all idiots, for the most part. All you can ever be is just a lousy janitor, unless your uncle owns the store, to quote a song by a guy with an exciting mustache who died of cancer.
Here's the funny odd part. I'm not depressed anymore. I don't know why. I should be. The job situation is bleak and getting bleaker. I have been rejected by seven of the nine MFA programs I applied to, and I fully expect to be rejected by the other two. My resume is confusing and unpromising. I don't know what I want to do for a living or how to make something besides mediocre office jobs happen for me in perpetuity. I'm stuck, which pays about as well as you'd expect. Sometimes worse.
Why am I not depressed about all this? Why am I approaching near-happiness for the first time in at least five years? I have no fucking idea, but I do know that professional failure isn't as big a deal as personal failure. Until recently, I romanticized the latter and made myself sick with depression, anger, and worry about the former. I didn't want to be a nobody. I wanted to do something important, etc. I put all my energy into negativity and it poisoned all the good things in my life. It's time to stop doing that.
In forty or fifty years, when we're old and out of oil and all the major economies have collapsed and our cities have been bombed by terrorists and natural and environmental disasters have made huge swaths of area unlivable and the roving gangs of Mad Max S&M punk rock gearhead cannibalistic CHUDs are eating our brains, I don't want my final thoughts to be, "Hey, stop eating my brains. I was a big man once, who did important things and changed the culture and made the money and spent a lot of time at work and schmoozed with the best of them and impressed people." I want my final thoughts to be, "I'd prefer you stopped eating my brains, but if you insist on continuing, who gives a shit? I had a great wife, and great friends, and I played lots of music, and ate tasty food, and did some traveling, and wrote a lot of stuff that nobody cared about but I had fun doing all of that, and I love music, and film, and literature, and jokes and gags, and Friday nights, and drinking beer, and I wasn't a total square. I got chased by the cops a few times, and I did some fun drugs, and I met some great people, and I tried not to take things from other people, and I tried to share, and I tried to get to know myself a little, and I didn't worship money, and I did some terrible things but I was sorry about it, and I didn't let life turn me into a robot or an animal, not like you, brain-eater. You're the animal. Come on, baby. That's what life is, brother! In the words of Ric 'Nature Boy' Flair: Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"
I have an awesome wife, and great friends, and I like the band I'm playing in, and I fill my free time with all the things that give me pleasure. That should be enough. If I never find a job that makes me happy, I need to live with that. I'm working through my parents' divorce, and the onslaught of deaths in the family, and my own predilection toward despair and rage, and my many failures, and my almost comical bad luck, and my tendency to get irritated by the slightest, tiniest thing. I'm trying not to poison and sabotage my whole life because a few aspects of it are terrible. But, yeah, I really think I'm screwed in the job and grad school departments for the remainder of my life.
I will give a variation on this motivational speech to Rotary clubs, high schools, business seminars, rehabilitation centers, community theatres, mud wrestling emporiums, adult bijous, chautauqua exhibitions, World's Fairs, taco carts, tent revivals, hospices, pie-eating contests, Scientology centers, your grandma's basement, lingerie modeling centers, Tommy Lee's house, and skeet-shooting contests for a handsome fee. No state fairs, please.
To conclude, here are three live performances of my favorite Teenage Fanclub song by the Fanclub itself, the Afghan Whigs, and J Mascis & The Fog, featuring Mike Watt on the thunderbroom. The latter also includes a bit of "Range Life" and "In a Rut."
P.S. Since grad schools, magazines, and journals want nothing to do with my writing, I am going to start posting a few of my short stories here for free. I'm kind of embarrassed by them, but if life has taught me nothing else, it is that every person on earth should feel constant embarrassment because of the way we live our puny lives. Vitriol and hurtful criticism will be welcomed. It beats the onslaught of indifferent rejection I am used to my work receiving.