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Dance Anthem of the 80s | 2009 | Creativity Without Discipline

07.13.09 1:11 p.m.

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.  

-Kurt Vonnegut


Waiting for the Path

She hears your sins

Every morning, I talk with Melanie while I have a light breakfast and apply for jobs, largely English teaching related. Then, I workout and read. After lunch, I sit in a franchised café and revise the recently completed first draft of my second novel Red Hook. Some evenings, I see my friends or family. Were it not for the lack of Melanie and a steady paycheck (from someone other than unemployment), this would be a nearly perfect life for me. Despite the setback of being laid-off, I feel like I am on the verge of something truly wonderful. I just can't figure out in which direction. There are so many ways my life can go really right almost instantly, it simply has yet to.

I tell my mother of an interview that didn't go well (the school seemed to interview only to fill a quota and had no interest in what my resume stated or what answers I gave) and her advice is to give up on the state of New York entirely, assuming that schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or New Jersey will be keener to have qualified teachers. I see this as a different set of hoops to jump through to end up no better than I am now; the problem is system-wide. As I say time and again, I see no point in working a job that is designed to remove me from the very reason I work. If I ran away - because that would be the end result - it would only be because a school district in Massachusetts was never justifiably threatened by my mother while she worked for them, thus rendering my name mud.
I spent a lot of time here.

Just as I am not about to put my destiny in the hands of my lover, I am certainly not about to give over the reigns to my mother. I have no need to run, knowing there is nothing chasing me and unwilling to plummet off a cliff because the path wasn't truly mine.

My father apologizes for her, saying she just wants what is best for me (and I believe this is so) but, after twenty-eight years of knowing me and having seen me learn from mistakes, I would hope she would accept I know what is best for me and will pursue it fiercely. I hope that this results in my finding a position at a school, but trust that the autumn will bring the right employment for me to allow me to continue the life I deserve to be living.

It isn't enough to simply say that it is the schools' loss (though it is, I'm an amazing candidate and would instantly be one of those teachers my students reference in college admission essays) because I need their recognition and paycheck. The ludicrousness is grating, explaining that I haven't worked as a public high school teacher because none would hire me because I haven't already worked at a public high school teacher. It is not an original conundrum, but that doesn't make it any less obnoxious to fight against.

While I have to acknowledge that my faith is flickering slightly as the weeks elapse, as sure things neglect to call me and as my time is squandered at interviews for jobs already promised to someone. This is my path and I will walk it, but I don't understand why there cannot be clearer maps and easily sections. Is there ever a part where it is solid walking, rather than scrabbling and waiting for the next sharp curve? Where it feels that my current destination bears any relevance to the journey behind me, all the work I've done to stand in this spot and look baffled? I don't need it easy - that would be dull - but I would prefer it somehow sensible. I would prefer a fate that is more three squares a day than feast and famine.

To switch metaphors drastically, I have previously referred to this particular struggle as gambling, that my education to this point involved my wagering my future and letting the bet ride as I played less stellar hands. I can't simply cash out, as I am too far in the hole for that, so I've just been hoping the next deal will be in my favor. But I've been leaving out the crucial fact that I am allowed to keep some cards (Melanie, living where I want) and give up those that aren't serving me. Maybe I won't get the cards I necessarily want, but it is no longer all or nothing.

I am not panicking so far. Something very profound assures me - despite what members of the world outside my head may think - that this will work out. I lost a stultifying desk job for something where I can be fulfilled. The universe was not so reassuring last summer and things worked out. I can trust the Tao to put me exactly where I most need to be.

Soon in Xenology: Rollerskating.

last watched: Better Off Dead
reading: Henry and June
listening: Garfunkel and Oates

Dance Anthem of the 80s | 2009 | Creativity Without Discipline

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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