In honor of Valentine’s Day, this is a love letter to my husband. But apparently, he is too busy to read my column, so he won’t see the letter.
The last time I complained about his disinterest, he said, “Okay, fine, read me your columns.”
So I read a column out loud to him. And in the middle of it, he fall asleep.
To test him, I said, “So, what do you think?”
He jerked his head up, like a college kid in an 8 am class, and he said, “Uh. It got slow after the first couple of paragraphs.”
Fortunately, my affection for my husband isn't based on his listening skills. I love him for other reasons, including his fearlessness when it comes to changing careers. He isn't afraid to reinvent himself professionally so that he always does something he finds interesting. His excitement about his work makes our life together more fun.
My husband's first job was as a composer. When he was ten. For most kids this wouldn't be a job, but his parents couldn't afford a private school in Los Angeles, so my husband got a scholarship to a top-tier school for his musical talents.
In college, he decided that to be a great composer you need to have something very new to say, and he did not have something that new to say about music. So he quit music.
He went to film school and earned spending money by editing soft-core porn: “The Magic Blanket Bikini.” (He says it was very, very, soft because the star announced midway through filming that she wouldn't take her clothes off.) He made video art for his master's thesis, and his work became so well known that it is part of the curricula at UCLA's film school.
But he grew tired of the film industry after one too many Magic Blankets. So when he graduated, he took a job designing video games. He learned to say Ka-pow! and Ouch! in four languages, and he got to wheel and deal with big budgets from major gaming companies.
I married a game designer with a penchant for piano and a portfolio of films that featured ex-girlfriends being constrained. (“The director,” he explained, “always dates the actress.”)
On September 11, my husband found himself looking over me, dust-covered and shaken in a hospital bed. Suddenly, he wanted to save the world. He became an unpaid volunteer for nonprofits until one hired him. Now he helps prisoners establish safe, fulfilling lives when their sentence is up. His job would stretch my patience (admittedly, thin) to its limits.
My husband drives his parents nuts: “We drove to all those music lessons and then you go to film school! We paid for five years of film school and you make video games!” He drives my parents nuts, too: “What is his job? Video is not a job! Volunteering is not a job!” But my husband’s approach to work makes me excited; Members of my family picked a career and stuck with it forever, even when they stopped being fun.
Our careers are not who we are. But what we choose to do with our days reflects our values. I picked a partner who tolerate being bored or uninspired, and his standards for life encourage me to raise my own. His career choices also reveal a bigger heart than I saw when I married him — except when it comes to reading my columns.