Will my life change overnight when a literary agent decides to take me on as their client? The voice of every English professor I’ve ever had screams ‘NO! Nothing happens instantaneously. Don’t let success go to your head. Just keep baby-stepping towards your goal.’ But what if I don’t want to baby-step? Is it wrong to check your email daily, waiting for a drastic change that will finally give you objectives to complete, tasks to accomplish and goals to strive for?
The voices of my parents, job coaches and uninformed friends echo in my head: ‘you need to get a job. Steady employment will take your mind off of all the woes of the world.’
What they don’t seem to understand is that the only job I’ve ever been successful at was a complete fluke! My co-workers at Bethlem High School all knew who I was because my dad had worked there for thirty years. If I somehow landed a teacher’s aide job at different high school where nobody knew me, I’d be sacked within the first week.
‘A female student said you looked down her shirt, you’re fired!’ ‘You arrived late ONCE, you’re gone!’ ‘You didn’t learn the ropes by day four even though the acceptance packet said you’d have two weeks training, get out of here!’ ‘You yipped when we told you to yop, goodbye!’ ‘You asked too many questions and failed to look busy even when there was nothing to do, have a nice life!’
Like I’ve probably said before: me and conventional employment don’t mix.
I guess I’m just the kind of person who needs to set his own hours and be his own boss.
Believe it or not, at this very moment, my mind is in work mode. My writing, music and art ARE my job. I take my artistic career as seriously as the ideal bagel baker should bagels.
But the reality is, 99% of bagel bakers probably don’t give a shit about bagels. More than likely, they REVILE those bread-dough abominations that insidiously masquerade as donuts just to troll those unfortunate enough to bite into one.
I firmly believe that my brain is hardwired to my prevent my body from doing any task that A, I don’t enjoy, B, don’t feel is necessary, or C, don’t believe in.
What I did at Bethlem came from my heart. I can’t really say that about any other job I’ve ever had other than my creative pursuits.
I suppose my parents arrived at the same conclusion as soon as my college years came to an end. They’re the ones who facilitated my current financial dependence on the government. They knew I would never be able to work a normal job or contribute to society in a typical way.
Hence my current situation: a surreal existence where I spend two or three days of the week at Starbucks with my laptop either writing or submitting manuscripts to publishers. The rest of the time, I’m either sitting in the library of my alma mater reading dense novels about the Knights Templar and Kabbalah, taking six mile walks with sludge metal blasting through my headphones, or binging for six to eight hours at a time on video games. It should be noted that I’m not addicted to playing video games, but rather, to buying them (which is not relevant to this essay, so therefore, I digress.)
Although I’m grateful that I get to live the artist’s dream while gorging on Social Security benefits that I probably don’t deserve, I can’t help feeling guilty about it. How come I get to “live the dream” while my brother, who is arguably just as mentally messed up as I am, has to endure the soul crushing drudgery of his job at the Department of Tax and Finance? Five days a week, he sits at his cubicle, answering anger and hate-filled queries from painfully stereotypical Jews, blacks and Long Island Italians regarding whatever bullshit the IRS has dumped on them this week. I suppose he is just neurotypical enough to maintain steady employment at such a position without having regular meltdowns.
I often theorize that, in some ways, he is much sicker than I am. Sure, I’ve had my moments of disillusion with life, but these days, I keep depression and anxiety at bay through reading, writing and exercise. These three things form the Sacred Trinity that perpetuates happiness in my life.
Again, my thoughts return to the question of ‘why do I get to live what many would consider an ‘ideal artist’s existence’ while my brother has to suffer like a typical American Millennial?’ Did he choose this path, or did I get off scott-free because I bitched and moaned so loudly for so many years that my parents caved and convinced the Federal Government to appease me like a spoiled child?
Do I really believe this about myself?
I’d like to think not.
After all, I’m pouring everything I have into this blog post and my writing career as a whole. Hell, I just meticulously crafted five query letters and emailed them to literary agents. A lazy person wouldn’t have had the patience or diligence to do such a thing. An actual entitled man-child would be at home in his underwear right now playing video games. In fact, he’d be doing that every single day without a shred of ambition or drive to contribute to society. And the video games he’d be playing certainly wouldn’t be the kind that stimulate the imagination or intellect. They’d be Dorito-brained shooters and hack’n’slash online life-wasters: games in which headset-wearing twelve-year-olds call each other faggots and shout men’s rights activist slogans at any female players unfortunate enough to be logged in. Then a forty-year-old guy would show up and be like, ‘Here’s a dick pic: pls respond.’
I’m fairly certain that I’m not that type of guy.
But what type of guy am I?
On paper, I’m a thirty-year-old, disabled, unemployed bachelor with a Bachelor’s Degree (go figure.) Am I doing what a thirty-year-old autistic man who calls himself a writer ought to be doing? Is there even such thing as an ‘ought-to?’
Perhaps my brother just chose to veer off in a different direction from me. He made a conscious decision to wallow in the shit piling up at his feet because he knew he was capable of doing so.
Being capable of enduring bullshit: is that a quality every human being should ideally have?
I can tell you right now that I don’t have it.
It seems I’ve reached the thesis (as well as the conclusion) of this essay. I just wish there was someone else in my family who was just as incapable of dealing with bullshit as me. If such a person existed, perhaps they’d be a fan of bands like Anal Cunt and GG Allin too. My cousin’s baby was born the day Lemmy Kilmister died, so maybe there’s hope after all.