Tender Is The Night

I can’t really remember when I decided I needed to read some Fitzgerald. It was probably in a cafe, thinking about Paris. With my life over the past 5 years, it might have been in a cafe in Paris. I don’t remember, but it must have been some time ago. I have had, Tender Is The Night in my possession for years now. I pick it up, read the first few passages, and then get distracted by life. That is how reading, and writing, are for me these days.

Somehow, since we moved to Gabrovo, Peatuk has decided that he will let me read while breastfeeding again, as long as he is already attached and half asleep. (He is such a gracious bug.) I discovered I was ravenous for the written word. I finished The Green Mile in two days. The World and Other Places took me longer, if only because I had to stop and bask in its genius too many times.

My books written in English are limited these days, and I have finally admitted that reading Bulgarian is work; not relaxing in the least. That left Tender is the Night and a few classic Bulgarian novels translated into English. I decided to be daring and pick up the Fitzgerald, once again.

It is so different from the other times I tried to start it. The book is downright delicious, and it makes me want to start writing again. Part of what I find so amusing is the parallels to every Hemingway book that is set in Europe. From the clothing of the main characters to how they eat and drink, it is the exact same scene, written in only slightly different perspective. It makes me feel like I am revisiting parties that I have already attended.

It, strangely, made me want to write a very dry, honest short story about work. It was only after I played the idea over in my mind for a day that I realized I have never actually had a ‘real’ job. (What makes a job any more real than another, anyway?)

I have volunteered for the majority of my life. I went from part-time college jobs: colorguard coach, fast food, exotic dancer, fire spinner…. to part time barista, sumer camp counselor, AmeriCorps, Conservation Corps, Peace Corps… I have never sat behind a desk, hating the tedium of meaningless labor. The closest I have been to that, ironically, is now that I am working as a writer. Now that I am making good money doing the thing I have always wanted to do, I feel the absurdity of supporting consumer fetishes.

I have become a writer, but instead of writing the truth, I bend reality into the perfect life that helps support capitalism. I find it to be my most meaningless work. Before, I may have been volunteering and making less than minimum wage, but I was touching the threads of human development. I was helping people create relationships and build skills. It was meaningful. Now, I make $40 an hour. That’s real, but there is no satisfaction, because all of this virtual work, building the internet and bolstering consumer-capitalism is… unnecessary. It is fluff. My first ‘real’ job feels nothing but fake. 

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