SELF-LOATHING I think I've figured it out. It's not my job that I hate, it's myself. I loathe the person I am. The reasons are pretty straightforward, but correcting them; that's another matter. In some cases, I have no control over it, but in other cases, I don't want to correct them, and that just adds to the problem. I recognize that they are bad habits, but I have no desire to change. MY MARRIAGE It isn't that I don't love my wife, or because I'm unhappy with her. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think it's our lives have become routine. When we first got married, we would get up on a Saturday morning and drive to Los Angeles (about 90 miles away, at the time) with no particular plan in mind; just because we could. When we arrived, we would decide what to do based on whatever struck us as interesting. The whole day was one of spontaneity. We used to go rock climbing, hiking, mountain climbing, or just walking around town. Money was even tighter in those days, but it never seemed to matter. Most of the time, we would find something to do that didn't cost anything. These days, with both of us working, anytime we go anywhere other than a local trip is a major expedition that must be well-planned in advance. With me it isn't so bad, but her schedule is so convoluted it makes a New York train schedule look like it was written by an obsessive-compulsive. It takes an act of God for her to call in sick, even if she is throwing up and running a 105 degree fever. MY JOB I don't know why I hate my job. All things considered, it really isn't a bad gig. I am working on computers, which I enjoy, with people that, for the most part, I get along well with. The environment is very relaxed (most of the time); we can even wear shorts and tee-shirts to work on a daily basis. I work 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, with weekends and holidays off. If I need to leave suddenly in the middle of the day for some reason, it usually isn't an issue. I know people who would KILL to have my job! So why am I so damned unhappy? Part of it may be because I don't apply myself at work as much as I could. I do as much as needs to be done to get by. I let work pile up because I don't want to deal with it, and it comes back to bite me. Maybe I'm lazy. Maybe it's that I know from experience that people who perform their job exceptionally well just get more work piled on them and that's why I don't work harder. Maybe surfing the Net is more fun than doing paperwork or processing publications. And that may be the answer. I don't hate my job; I hate myself for not doing the work I know I am capable of doing. I feel oppressed and overwhelmed with work, but maybe that's because I let it pile up because I don't want to deal with it. But changing my ways? Ah, there's the real trick. MY PERSONAL LIFE Again, we find that I am a miserable soul. I want to be happy and carefree, really I do. But with constant worries over income and making ends meet, I find no joy in life. It seems that we work endlessly and each time I glance up, that magical day of retirement seems further and further away. And I speak to people who have retired after 30 years of work, and they tell me that they still have to work just to eat. My wife tells me that one day, we won't have to work anymore, and we'll have everything we need in life. I used to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, too. She gets tired of hearing me complain about work and tells me to go ahead and quit, but I know she doesn't really mean it. Even if I did, she would take a second job to keep us in money, which isn't fair to her. I hate not having money. I like being able to spontaneously go out to dinner and to treat friends if they are a little short. I don't like living in Mississippi. I want to leave and go somewhere like Alaska or Idaho, or Canada. But my wife hates the cold, and she wants to be near her father and her brother (and soon, her aunt). I can respect that, but it means that I'm stuck here forever. Even if I convinced her to move, we both have good jobs at which we are well-entrenched, and picking up stakes and going someplace with an unknown job market is daunting. Logically, it isn't worth the risk. But it leaves me miserable. What I would love is to have an isolated home in the middle of 100 acres or so of land that I own (to prevent neighbors) somewhere in the north. It would be far enough from civilization that we didn't have to worry about traffic or any such, powered with solar energy and with well water, so there were no issues with utility bills. Our main means of transport would be horses, though we would have a 4x4 in the garage for the weekly grocery run or emergencies. We would have satellite television and mobile hot spot for the Internet, and I would hunt and grow vegetables to supplement our groceries. I could work on writing, and if I got stuck, just go for a ride, clear my mind, and come back and start again. It would be located somewhere isolated, nestled in the woods in the mountains, where it snowed in the winter and the summers never got unbearably hot. But my wife wants to be within 5 minutes of a Wal-Mart, to have people to talk to on either side of us, and to be close to town. She doesn't like the cold, doesn't want to be in the wild, and forget about it being in the mountains. Our idea of heaven on Earth is so completely different. I hate being overweight. And yet, I hate dieting even more. Exercise I don't mind so much, but it's a chore, and working all day and then spending an hour at the gym rubs me the wrong way. I get home (if I skip the gym) at 5:15 pm. By the time I get caught up on the household chores, it is 6 pm. Since I usually go to bed around 10 pm (and watch a movie or surf the Net), that leaves 4 hours for me to shower, prepare (or find) dinner, and take care of anything else that needs to be done. Anything left over is personal time. Tack a gym visit in there and personal time rapidly diminishes. I like to write. I have at least four novels that are in a state of perpetual "progress." But each time I start to write something, one of two things happens: either I write myself into a corner, or I think, "No one would want to read this drivel," and toss it out. MY FAMILY We can't choose our family, though I'm sure that many of us would like to do so. And in some odd and quirky way I love my family. But it irritates the hell out of me that they treat my wife like a second-class citizen and that they just make assumptions about us. My sister-in-law hates my wife, for some reason. I don't know why. My wife has never been anything but unfailingly polite to her. As a result, it has been four years since my wife and I have seen our niece. My sister-in-law's family lives about three hours from us and when they come down to visit them, they always seem to be too busy to stop by the coast to say hi to us. My brother did swing down on his last visit, but his wife was unavailable and his daughter was staying with the grandparents for the day. During the month that I spent with my family in December, my mother explained to me that she doesn't hate my wife (though she was opposed to our marriage and was one of the people who voiced her opinion that it wouldn't last), but that for some reason, my sister-in-law and all of her sisters and family hated my wife, and she (my mother) just "couldn't understand why. MUNDANITY This is the big one. I hate being "normal." I'm so ordinary that it physically pains me, and I can't stand it. All my life, I have wanted to be extraordinary. I've often wished that I were disabled or, more frequently, that I had Dissociative Identity Disorder. This seems strange to most people, that I would like to share my body with a bunch of strangers, but I think it would be a fascinating (if sometimes stressful) experience. I'm the one who would love to be abducted by aliens, see a UFO, or encounter a ghost. Anything out of the ordinary. If I were out for a walk, turned the corner, and saw Godzilla attacking the city, I would probably be hard-pressed not to squeal like a giddy schoolgirl. Another of my favorite daydreams involves being dropped in the very heart of Africa for one month, armed with only a survival knife. Many people wouldn't want to be left in a strange city for a week, much less an inhospitable and hostile region for a month, but I would consider it a test of my will, my endurance, and my wits. One of the few things that I did like about the military life was going new places and seeing new sights. As a child, I hated it, but as an adult, I enjoy moving to a new place and exploring a new city. It's almost like starting over every two or three years, and it kept life fresh. But I always had the security of knowing that there was a job there for me, and the expense of moving was always covered. We all have fantasies of having super-powers when we were younger, but for me it goes beyond that. I would be the first to expose myself to radiation if I thought I would gain any super-powers aside from spontaneous tumor generation and weakened bladder control. As corny as it sounds, if I had super-powers, I would use them to help others. I probably wouldn't wear the spandex (there's an ugly thought), but I would certainly use my abilities for "good." I've even given serious thought to taking up vigilantism if I ever get back in fighting trim (which seems unlikely). I lead a very mundane and boring life, and I hate it. I want adventure and excitement on a scale that simply doesn’t happen outside of a movie. I want to go places where no one has ever been, see sights that no one else has ever seen, and have adventures that rival those of the greatest fiction authors. It’s a vicious cycle, and one which leaves me sitting in my office, hoping that I will die of some mysterious affliction so that I don’t have to get up tomorrow and do the same thing over again. I’d kill myself, except that I feel guilty about leaving a mess behind for someone else to take care of. When I was young, the world was full of possibilities. I honestly believed that I could do absolutely anything to which I put my mind. Nothing was impossible. Sadly, adulthood has driven a stake through most of my childhood dreams and enthusiasm. I used to love life. But then I learned that it’s all a lie; a veneer that is placed over the real world for children to give them hope for long enough to grow up. There is no Santa Claus and no Tooth Fairy. There are no dragons to slay, or princesses to rescue. There is no magic in the world, no super-heroes, and no wondrous realms to be discovered. The only thing at the end of the rainbow is a mound of dirt. We aren’t all winners and not everyone gets to play. More than anything else, I want to be a hero. I want to save lives and help others, and I don't want to do it through the little things. Anyone can make a difference by picking up trash in their neighborhood, helping build a house for someone, or living "green." I want to do things that have a major impact or that provide instant results. When I look in the mirror and see the perfectly ordinary, flabby, old body staring back at me, instead of the vibrant, healthy, strong body that I envision myself having, it saddens me. And when I consider a future of struggling to make ends meet, living in the same place I have lived for 10 years, being a perfectly ordinary person in a perfectly ordinary world... ...is it any wonder I often contemplate suicide? I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. If this is all I have to look forward to, I'd rather quit. I have clinical depression, I am seeing a counselor bi-weekly, and they have me on medication. But my counselor has no answers, and the medication may help me deal with it, but it doesn't offer a solution. That may be the issue at hand; there is no solution. Short of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning and having my heretofore unknown "x-gene" activated, it ain't gonna happen. If this is what life is all about; struggling to stay afloat until I draw my last breath, then just spare me the agony and kill me now. What’s the point? Yeah, I know. It’s nothing that everyone else doesn’t feel, so I should pull up my big girl panties, shut up, and do what needs to be done. Yada yada yada. Seriously, just shoot me. It’s kinder.