once i had a godfather who didn't believe in god. i don't believe in god either. one christmas he sent me cats cradle and franny and zooey. he is a doctor not a medical doctor but a doctor of philosophy like i am going to be one day. he is underemployed like i am going to be one day. he works in a library and less smart people say things like why the hell is he wasting his life away stacking books? one day someone, an old roommate's wife probably, will ask her husband the same question about me. she was smart it's a shame she never did anything with her life. doesn't she have her phd? she will look up from her crate and barrel catalouge and say that.
once i had a godfather who lived in a dilapidated house in college town usa. he had walls of records and very many cats. he had a best friend who died on his motorcycle on new years eve. he had a wife who left him and a girlfriend who left him. he made me coffee and asked me if i did drugs. i was nine. don't be afraid to try things, he said.
once i had parents. they didn't believe in god either but they tried to hide it from me, probably so i wouldn't grow up into the kind of person i grew up into. they wanted me to live up to my potential. all my life i resisted living up to my potential.
the thing i remember most about childhood was hiding my failures from my parents. waiting for the mail. forgeing signatures on things. ten times a day. you will not amount to anything in life if you do not start living up to your potential. my potential to do what? you will not Get In To Collge. woe is me.
i was in high school in the nineties when educators were trying to level the playing field by making effort count for pretty much everything. but i got a perfect score on the test, i said, why does it matter if i never showed up for class? teachers do not like when you say these things. i barely graduated high school but Get In To College i did due to extraordinary test scores.
if i was on a college board of admissions i would seriously question the combination of extraordinarily high test scores and devestatingly low grades. basically what this says to me is that this person has a high intellect but is totally unmotivated and or has no respect for authority. i don't want to go to college, i said. but my parents told me i was going and i went. and failed out immediately. somehow they didn't see that coming.
i worked at a gas station and paid rent. i was 18. i smoked my roommates cigarette butts out of the ash tray and invented about twenty different recipes involving ramen. i worked with a forty year old lady named heidi. she was once a welder and her face was pockmarked. she wore shorts and flirted with the assistant manager. she scared the fuck out of me. i went back to college.
and i did well. i lived up to my potential. i learned things. i had a creative writing class where all we did was write short stories and discuss them. i never missed a class. really everyone hated my stories but my professor wrote things on them like 'brilliant' and 'this is publishable.' of course i never had any of them published. there was only so much living up to my potential that i could take.
i studied during the day and snorted blow all night. i drank a lot of cheap beer. i slept in and went to class at noon. i worked the mid shift at the gas station. i was robbing them blind. life is beautiful.
i panicked when i realized i was going to graduate. i applied for graduate school. my degree was in psychology. i never wanted to be a psychologist. i just liked studying it. i never wanted to be anything. when i was little and my mom asked me what i was going to do with my miserably failed life i would shrug and tell her maybe i'll walk to california. it's warm there. she scoffed at me. that would take forever. i won't have anything else to do. my mom started predicting that i would be a miserable failure at life when i was about eleven years old.
i loved graduate school for the first year. i was made for it. i loved the fact that i could remember everything i read and i didn't have to study and i could write fantastic first drafts that didn't require revisions. i resisted starting my thesis for three years. i still have not started my thesis. everyone was so pleased that i was living up to my potential that they failed to see that what i was actually doing was making a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable.
i am not living up to my potential. i was never living up to my potential. i don't even know what that means. can someone please tell me what that means?
lets be real for a moment. if you ask me what i will do with this degree, in this CAREER (and i never wanted anything to do with CAREERS) i will tell you I AM GOING TO WRITE A TEST THAT WILL BE SO PHENOMENAL I WILL NEVER HAVE TO WORK. I WILL SIT AROUND ALL DAY AND COLLECT THE CHECKS. hello. these are the goals of a person who has no goals.
fuck. at the risk of sounding grandiose let's ask kenneth bainbridge what he has to say about living up to one's potential.
maybe one day we will all live up to our potential to be happy.