Just wait till tomorrow. I guess that’s what they all say.

When I was young I only ever had a murky vision of what success might look like. My vision didn’t include the Port Authority bus terminal on 8th Avenue and 42nd Street 2x a day, five days a week.

Victo Dolore did a post about how much she enjoys her work. I sat down and made a list of all the things I wish I had tried. Things that would’ve been far more gratifying than being an office drone.

Photographer
Playwright
Reporter
Rare book dealer
Novelist
Letterpress publisher
College graduate

I was such a mess for such a long time. A deadly cocktail of paralyzing doubt and crippling self-loathing with a lethal chaser of lethargic indifference. I had no idea how to go about achieving any of those things. I convinced myself that any attempt would result in abject failure, so I never tried. I needed a proper boot in the ass but none were forthcoming. I hope my daughters don’t inherit my neurosis. Just the good bits.

I just noticed that those are all solitary professions. I thought I kind of liked people. I guess not so much.

If you’re <35 years old, for fuck’s sake, don’t just sit there. Get started.

Wake up every day that would be a start
I would not complain of my wounded heart

I was a short fuse
Burning all the time

~~~~~~~~~~

July 2, 1992

I ate dinner at Carib last night. I had a tuna steak that was out of this world.  Went with John and Howie, who left their wives at home. We looked like three gay investment bankers. Our waitress was a downtown snob who hated our guts and didn’t bother to mask her contempt but we left her a tip anyway because we’re better than that. Those guys are light years ahead of me in the career game but they don’t make me feel bad about it. I appreciate that.

At the end of the meal, after the plates were cleared, a little black kitten appeared. John picked it up and put it on our table. The waitress was disgusted because we had a kitten on the table. Howie was afraid of it. When it got near him, he would recoil in horror and yell at us to get it away from him. He wasn’t playing around.

I had it doing laps around the table chasing a straw. John held its tail and I would tease it with the straw just out of its reach. It turned out it belonged to the restaurant. His name was Bernie. He stayed with us for quite a while. Then, two little black kids walked in and we handed Bernie to them.

Sitting next to us was a black couple on a date. The girl was very pretty and the guy was a mass of muscle. I saw a second kitten under their table and noticed it was playing with a mouse. I leaned over said to the black guy, “Hey, there’s a kitten under your table playing with a mouse.” He looked down, turned to his date and said, “Honey, there’s a kitten under our table playing with a mouse.” She looked, screamed, got up and ran out of the restaurant. Then we called our nasty waitress over and said the kitten under the table is batting a mouse around and she had the exact same reaction. We were laughing our asses off. Finally, a busboy came over with a broom and dustpan and scooped up the now-dead mouse. The kitten was frantic looking for it. It was funny but it spoiled my appetite for dessert.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Absurd this is. I can’t think of two things that have less to do with one another than Yoda and SpaghettiOs. And “Healthy Kids Entrée” and “NOW EVEN MORE!” is also wildly incongruous. Who are they trying to impress with that accented é? This label is fraught with contradictions.

~~~~~~~~~~

Guggenheim ramp. Frank Lloyd Wright treasure.

58 thoughts on “Just wait till tomorrow. I guess that’s what they all say.

  1. Thanks for the shout out! You make a great photographer already, you know. And writer. AND, you have a good eye for art. The mouse under the table was funny as hell. 🙂

  2. I love the ramp, Mark. And now a word from a guy even older than you. The boot out the door from the big daily in 2013 sent me on the big search, inside and out, that’s now found me working at the library instead, adding elements to my career I never attempted at the newspaper/website. And you have one heck of a still-doable list there. Just saying.

    • Hey, is that a boot in there ass? Not bad. My first one! I know this sounds like I’m a defeatist but sometimes it is what it is. I probably should’ve found inspiration in myself years ago but part of the problem has always been that I’m lazy and quite content to stay that way. #slacker

      • Following your tales of now, Mark, you are no slacker. Give yourself some credit. The rest of us give you plenty. Now there’s my slight nudge to go with the boot.

  3. I feel sorry for the mouse, but you’ve got to admire the innate hunting skills of kittens. Pity you didn’t tell the waitress the mouse was looking up her skirt.

    Can you really make a living as a dealer in rare books? Maybe you were lucky to avoid that one!

    • That mouse had it coming to him. What’s he doing in my restaurant? Now we know why they kept a couple cats around. It all seemed very European.

      There are a couple rare book dealers who make a nice living but they are few and far between. Lots of people try it but it doesn’t usually work out. Hey, I said it’s a dream.

  4. If you think about it you actually in one way or another so 4 of the above wishes.
    Your blog=photography, reporter.
    Thunder Road book=letterpress
    Rare Book Dealer=You have quit a collection of rare books.
    College-you would still be paying that debt off.
    So you see 4 out of 6 ain’t bad

    • While it’s nice to think I endulge in all those activities, I don’t make a living at any of them. Isn’t that the key? Get paid for something you’d do for free anyway? That’s what I’m talking about.

  5. I’m looking at my own kids, fretting about them and their futures. The middle girl just left school for the second time, and I’m worried as hell about her, not so much because she’s directionless but because she doesn’t have a passion. I don’t mind if my kids become drones, but they have to have something in their lives — something extracurricular — that excites them, gets them out of bed, something to look forward to. You may not be living your dream, but you at least live. You go to plays, galleries, observe and reflect, write it down. It’s not a career, but it’s something, no?

    • You’re right. I do manage to have a pretty nice time. Those interests you list were a long time coming, though. I’m the consummate late bloomer. Thank heavens they all arrived, but sooner, rather than later, would’ve been nice. Sad that everything I enjoy actually *costs* money. None of it is a money-making venture.

  6. We’re a lot alike, you and me, Mark. There are so many areas where we couldda been contenders! But my life is pretty good the way it fell together, so I don’t complain. And I fully plan to finish college when I retire. Seriously. Why not?

    • We couldda! But the world needs ditch diggers, too. That’s admirable of you to want to finish what you started. But I am not cursed with that kind of ambition. I much prefer to give up and whistle in a meadow as the sun sets.

      • well, I’m going to try. Or at least take classes. I’ve been lucky enough to have jobs where I read and learn all the time for the last 20 years — I like learning new stuff and I need the threat of deadlines to make me do it.

      • I think I might be slightly learning disabled. I’m not kidding. I was always a terrible student and even to this day I can’t retain ANYTHING. It’s disconcerting. I talk a pretty good game but under the hood there are problems.

      • You may be. I’m convinced that I have ADD (not a lot of H in me) because my mind bounces from thing to thing … I’ve always had jobs where I had several different balls in the air at once. I’m terrible with only one.

        When we were kids (and you’re younger than I am, but close enough), we weren’t assessed or thought of as anything other than not star students. C’est la vie.

        The beauty of finishing college when I’m a senior is that nobody will be asking for my transcripts …

  7. “Office drone.” No one puts that on a list, do they! That’s funny, why and how does that happen? I think I know, speaking from my own experience. I’m going through the exercise now of making a career plan with a coach I hired. It’s scary and weird to describe in an unfiltered way what you’d really like to do, and how you can map that to earning. It’s interesting how hard it is for us to not self-filter. The fear does that.

    • No one aspires to mediocrity. It happens on its own. I’m not one of the chosen few professionally but I try to make up for it in my off hours. I couldn’t discuss completely what I would’ve like to do. Some stuff is too embarrassing to mention. That’s an abbreviated, censored list above.

  8. I know it probably wasn’t meant to inspire mirth, but your first paragraph had my shoulders shaking. How many times have I sat on a bus going to a job I detest, think “how the fuck has it come to this?” I’ve never wanted to work, and avoiding it is a job in itself. Although having said that I’ve had the odd spell of really interesting, and sometimes well-paid work.

    The job I remember most fondly was washer-up at a local pizza restaurant. I liked it there. I was surrounded by early/mid twenties women in short black skirts, educated good-looking middle-class girls, and I had a good kitchen manager who worked hard all night with us and didn’t stand around watching us do it. We scrubbed that kitchen every night so clean you could eat your tea off the floor. Every plate and every bit of crockery sparkled when I had finished with it. I had a pride in my work, I liked flirting with the girls, I respected and was treated well by my manager, and sometimes we would stay behind at closing time to crack open some wine. And that was for the National Minimum Wage we have over here.

    However, I must say that an otherwise most interesting post did go a bit wrong Mark, when you implied that once you’re over 35 you can’t have any ambition or desire or projects. I’m teeming with them!

    looby (53 / M / Lancaster)

    • When I lived in Manhattan for all those years I used to complain that the nearest subway stop was a whole TWO AVENUES away. Why can’t I live closer to a subway hub?! It’d make my life so much easier. Now look at me. A 1+ hour bus journey into the bowels of Port Authority. THAT’S a proper commute.

      I enjoyed being in the Coast Guard. I oftentimes wonder why I left. I thought staying in would prevent me from ever becoming wealthy. It turns out I never got rich anyway. Nice little story there about the pizza joint.

      You can’t deny that starting is best when you’re young. You’re not supposed to admit that it’s too late. It goes against the stereotypical indomitable human spirit but the fact is, sometimes it’s too late.

      • Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the last bit. I didn’t have my children until I was almost 40, and I started a Masters in Music Sociology (which I successfully finished) when I was 49.

      • I stand corrected! I think it’s an even greater accomplishment when you can pull it off at age 49. When you’re young, you have the time and energy. Both are in short supply when you’re 49. At least, that’s what I hear 😉

  9. I really like the picture of the Guggenheim ramp. Having been there, done that makes it more fitting.
    I call it Ohio small town vision. We just keep plugging away, doing what’s right and hope it gets better along the way. Kind of a Kismet. I look back at all the little detours and people I have encountered to get to this point and consider myself fortunate. I can see what you mean, but look how bad it could of been. Or we could have won the lotto and “forget about it.”
    I wonder what Andy Warhol would of done with that Campbell’s can?

    • Man, I love the Guggenheim. Some architecture snobs call it a ‘parking garage’ and they say the outside looks like a toilet bowl but the hell with those guys. I like it.

      I followed a paycheck, not a dream. I wanted to pay the rent. All I ever wanted was financial security and I’ve barely accomplished that.

      Andy W wouldn’t have put Yoda on the label, that’s for damn sure.

  10. 42nd Street – hmmm…. I haven’t been there for about 7 years or so now. My old firm was headquartered there and I had to make regular trips there a lot at various points in my career. That was where I was on 9/11. I haven’t really thought about it for a while. Then I’m watching the original Superman film on the TV at the weekend, whilst feeling crap and there was the Daily Planet in a building I remember walking past often. And the bus station I remember that in my attempts to get about the city after work and not just hit the nearest bar… so in those days… I’d bus to a far flung bar and have to get a cab back when unable to navigate my hotel room let alone NYC public transport!

    So two memory jogs in a couple of days… wonder what that is all about?

    • Two memory jogs in a couple days is a sure sign of aging, my friend. Young people don’t have memory jogs because they don’t have proper memories yet. So welcome to the support group.

      Do you ever want to see NYC again or is it best for you to keep your distance? I’ll bet it looks markedly different than when you last saw it. This city is always evolving into the next big thing.

      • I just don’t think I’ll ever have reason to travel there again for work and we’ve done it as a holiday destination before. I’m ok about going back but just can’t see it happening

  11. You are more awesome than you realise, Mister.

    Look at some of your achievements and hell, let’s not forget the debaucherous, women filled cocktail of events from your journals. I think most would covet your experiences.

    All that’s missing is the hard cash. Don’t worry, I’m working on it…

    A healthy kids entrée. Really. Well, I guess the marketeers are playing on the fact that Yoda knows best.

    • Well, that’s very sweet of you but I’m not fishing for compliments. Just putting it all out there, warts and all. Who doesn’t want to read about my insecurities? And just to be accurate, the vast majority of the women in my journals wouldn’t have anything to do with me beyond a pleasant chat at the bar. They knew I was a wreck and kept their physical distance. Can’t say I blame them so much.

  12. I had a really long diatribe about this whole “career” thing, i scrapped it cuz i like you, besides i think i’ve been over it before… and the song is Regret and it’s in a dead heat as my favorite New Order song along with Love Vigilantes, i am the guy who tried to name his first born Ian Curtis, that’s first and middle of course, i did manage the Ian but someone caught out about the Curtis, the second kid got named after a Hemingway character, how’s that for being a pretentious prick?

    And since i’ve never had a career, though i do have a degree (Advertising and Journalism, 1993 with enough credits for a Pol. Science minor if my shit school had one) that’s never been used and some grad courses taken for shits and giggles (dropped/flunked out by choice 1995) i give to you my favorite gigs – in order no less… 1. Slinging weed (7 years straight, 10 total off and on),
    2. French Fry Maker, Thrasher’s French Fries, 4 seasons, 3. Factotum- Big World Bank Machine… how’s that for a resume? Stellar i know…

    • I think I might’ve enjoyed being taken down on the mat over my career thing obsession. You resume has flavor. Or, as looby would say, flavour. I worked in the Millbrook bread factory in Clevo. Lasted one day.

      I’m actually not a huge New Order fan. I like them well enough but that song got/gets under my skin. It has real staying power. You’re not supposed to have any regrets but I think it’s part of the human condition. Saying ‘there’s nothing I regret’ sound false and idiotic to me. What? You’ve never made a mistake or took a wrong fork?

      • I believe regrets are now called “learning experiences”, it’s a gentler world in these harsh times… and always start from the outside in with the forks, how’s that for manners, i may be a caveman but if you’re gonna get over on the squares you gotta know the rules of the game… and if you’ve ever listened to Bernard Sumner you know that prick regrets nothing, i like the band but he can be a Class A knob end…

    • Hey, I think you’re new here. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

      Andy took a box of Brillo pads and called it art. Those things sell for six figures now. Who knows how he would’ve felt? In a way, he WAS Yoda. “Famous for fifteen minutes, you will be.”

  13. I can relate. I got a degree in finance because of course I would go to college, and I had to pick something so I could support myself, and that seemed as good as any other.

    My 25-year-old daughter graduates next month with a masters in creative writing, and a huge pile of student loan debt, and part of me is wildly cheering, “Yes! You’re going for it!” But perhaps an equal part of me is yelling, “No! How the hell will you ever make a living?”

    I didn’t start writing until I turned 50. I think it’s this stage of life that brings these thoughts increasingly to mind; the awareness that the damn snowball of time is picking up speed exponentially, and now it’s a juggernaut hurtling downhill to the inevitable crash at the bottom.

    • How satisfying is that finance degree? I work around folks who have a genuine passion for that type of work but it puts me right to sleep.

      I’m reading an excellent book of interviews Judd Apitow conducted with successful comedians. It’s great because they all struggled but made it. All happy endings. You won’t see a book of interviews with failed Comedians anytime soon. Too depressing.

      I think I’m having a professional crisis. You mean, this is all I get? This is it?

      • I think you’re probably experiencing more of a life crisis than a professional crisis – totally understandable. I wouldn’t use words like “satisfying” or “passion” around finance or insurance; at least not for me. It’s what I do to support my habits. It’s interesting to a certain extent because I’m knowledgeable about the topics. I also take pride in that knowledge and my work. I assume it’s the same with you.

        But, no – not a whole, hell of a lot of soul-satisfying involved in the daily grind.

  14. Any restaurant that would have a mouse in it, doesn’t also “deserve” to have a snooty waitress. Funny. I worked nearly all of my career as a law librarian who worked alone. The times I was promoted and/or assigned to work on teams, I was a broken-hearted. I hated having to consider someone else’s feelings about a work product. – Marty

    • ALL restaurants (in New York) have mice. Sometimes, even worse than that. It’s a fact of life. They started a grading system. All restaurants are inspected and post their grade in the window. I’d say 95% are A-rated. You do NOT want to eat in a restaurant with a B rating. You have to fail on a pretty grand scale to get a B.

  15. Chasing straws and getting a mouse.
    How many people, like the kittens, do this. Some chase the straw, dangled in front of them, but get handed around. Remaining “tame”.

    Others go for the mouse, capture the prey, but just as we are about to enjoy it, an unfeeling authority comes by to deal with us.

    But, what about the third kitten?

  16. Interesting post. I am most fascinated by the black kittens and the mouse in the restaurant. Is this commonplace in New York? That’s a bit disturbing. As far as doing something you like, I say you have to do something that will make the money, a guaranteed income, and once that is taken care of, then you can really sit down and focus on the things you would really like to do. Honestly, I really didn’t start on things I liked to do until I hit my 50s. I work with kids, who I adore, but unfortunately they come with parents, who are not always enjoyable and can really be quite tiring and demanding and ridiculous, and sometimes they really make me hate my job.

    • I don’t know how commonplace it is but I wasn’t a bit surprised to see cats in a restaurant. Lots of people keep cats to keep vermin at bay. I’m okay with it. It’s the Circle of Life!

      Nothing I truly enjoy is a money-making venture that will get the guaranteed income and bills paid. Everything I really like to do is fun and costs money. I don’t think I’m so special in this regard. I think it’s part of the human condition.

      Sorry to hear about the parents. Here’s a quick story. I know someone who interviews students who are trying to get into an ivy league school. He’s had to change the venue from the students’ house to neutral ground, like Starbucks, because the PARENTS have started sitting in on the interviews and, in come cases, ANSWERING for their kids. It’s awful. It’s because when these parents look at their kids, they don’t see their children. They see a mirror.

      • Oh that’s horrible. I usually deal with parents at the other end of the spectrum, the ones that don’t give a crap about their kids, but think since they have read something on the internet, probably Buzzfeed or some site as equally intellectually stimulating, it must be the gospel truth. They have tattoos all over, piercings but want a prescription for Motrin, so Medi-cal will pick up the tab.

  17. For a variety of (stupid) reasons, I’ve never been to the Guggenheim! I’ve been in NYC more times than I can count and been to many other museums, but never inside the Guggenheim. I am remiss. As to your wish list, I get it. I wanted to be, in no particular: a journalist, a lawyer, an auto mechanic, and a race car driver. Yeah, from A to Z there, right? These were all aspirations as an adult, not a child, too. But, children and responsibilities changed all of that and here I am now saying, “WTF is next?” xoxo

  18. I sometimes wonder if earning one’s living doing the thing one loves is s double edged sword: does having to do it every day to pay the bills and keep customers happy take the joy out of it? You seem to have a good balance, you earn enough to be able to pay to do the things on your dream list. Maybe not as much as you’d like but some.

    The mouse story is hilarious.

    • You make an excellent point. How long would it take for the luster to tarnish if I had to do it for a living? If the bills being paid on time depended on it. Wouldn’t it ALL just turn into a job eventually? I think being forced to do something ruins it. It’s part of the human condition to rebel against responsibility.

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