Today is 9/11/15. It's not every day you write a book or a movie that anticipates a very particular day in the future (recently, I made a joke in court about a continuance to October 21, 2015 that did not go over very well), and on those days, you must celebrate. You must celebrate (though on this day certainly, we must mourn) and reflect on your accomplishments and assess how accurate your vision has proven to be. I never wanted to release S/M on its own blog, like my other two "completed" books, but now we have posted 2 out of the 34 chapters or so. The previous one posted was not one of the highlights of the book, but was just extremely timely in the same way. This is a definite highlight in the book. This is the high point, the low point, the climax, the everything. It's a definite spoiler, but given the amount of interest that S/M has generated, who really gives a fuck anymore? Enjoy.
Happiness, love, sex, and death. The four essential experiences to a human life. Birth might also be included, but I have a hard time believing anybody remembers being born. I also mentioned, earlier, that work could be included there. True, I could still go home, I could still get back on my feet, I could still work on a screenplay, I could still achieve success yet.
Enough! My hope is all used up. That is not accurate to say. I do not want to have any hope. I do not wish to join the simpering masses on their crowded commuter trains at 7 AM, on an inadequate sleeping schedule, returning at 5, facing the world as an equal when even the most basic bodily functions send terror shooting along my insides. I have never been able to express myself in language aloud. What few words I manage to issue forth from my mouth are filled with the most banal observations. Only here, on the page, is the full magnitude of my personality presented. It has been a long ride, but the roller coaster has just passed its final curve, and is now stopping, prepared for us to disembark and to load in another train of passengers.
Everyone wishes for sustained happiness. Take Samantha for example. Ben will provide her with sustained happiness. By now he must have passed the Bar. By now he must be working at a prestigious law firm in downtown Los Angeles. The money will soon come rolling right in. Samantha must be submitting shorts to the Hollywood Film Festival. They must be living together and thinking about marriage. Ben must be getting ready to pop the question, or has probably already done so. Samantha will clearly accept. Ben has very few faults. There are none that I have witnessed, and none that I have heard Samantha mention. Sustained happiness is theirs.
Take me, for example. Would Samantha and I even have experienced sustained happiness, were she to have dumped Ben after that fateful “day of reckoning” a month before the end of college? There’s no way of knowing for sure, but my long term prospects could never equal those of Ben. A rift in the relationship could have occurred. The only reason our friendship is so strong is because Samantha never allowed herself to get close enough to me to be disappointed.
Happiness: Robby and I at a 4th of July celebration, carefree, successful for our age, doing totally typical teenage things, no cooler or less cool than anyone else.
Love: Meeting Rhiannon for the first time, feeling like there was nothing I could do except impress her, going on an adventure downtown, feeling more advanced, comfortably normal, the way living should feel.
Sex: Tamara swiftly taking my innocence, doing it gently, carefully, feeling more normal, now on the same level as everyone else.
Death: At an early age, with profound works of art attached, a thrilling obituary, not famous, but oh so close.
If only they knew! If only those publishing houses had let me in their doors! If only 20th Century Fox, ABC Disney, CBS Paramount, Warner Brothers, or NBC Universal had let me squeeze into their crowded, crowded worlds. If only I had found a place I could feel comfortable, with everything taken care of for me, without feeling like an invalid.
I won’t go home. What’s the day? Why, it’s a national holiday in September. No work today. We must never forget. I remember: I was ten years old. I was getting ready to leave for school. My parents told me I didn’t have to go. We were witnessing something unprecedented. One day of studies could not contain the lessons presented in that experience. My parents called their relatives and friends, but none of them lived in New York. We were safe. None of us were hurt. Now I live in New York. And today nobody goes to work. There are few symbolic dates in a calendar year. January 1. February 14. Easter. Thanksgiving. December 25. Your birthday. October 31. December 31. And today.
Am I drinking? I’m out of money. I could still call my parents and ask for money to get home. I have a few cigarettes left. Smoke one.
I’m watching documentaries on TV about today. My history lesson, my déjà vu from a more innocent time. Getting drunk might prove advantageous at a time like this, but there is literally no more money. Seriously. It’s call my parents and go home with my tail between my legs or leave this life and hope that some published history will suffice as a point of success, my education not a total waste after all.
Oh but what a waste anyways! What a waste of a perfectly healthy body, an attractive frame, a reconstituted weight, and an artful mind. Social anxiety makes such a waste of life. I could still go home and see a therapist and receive a prescription and feel like normal people are supposed to feel. You must know how I feel about that, though: they’re all wimps. Did they have prescriptions for depression in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome? People got along perfectly well on their wits. All these chains we have to wear, more and more as we advance into the future—more invisible laws, more anxieties, more population, more technology, and more division.
One thing that will I will miss: you, reader! Reader, you have been with me from the start. I applaud your efforts of patience. You’ve been such a good friend to me, to listen to this entire confession, to push forward after many instances where others might have thrown it down in disgust—you believed in me, and you don’t know how much that means to me. Unfortunately, no one else believes in me, and this is why I have to do this. We had a good time though, didn’t we? I got to tell you about all the different times I cut myself and how my life has inexorably led me to this decision, how my life isn’t worth living because it’s filled with so much disappointment. Why get older! I’m always concerned about significant accomplishments for one’s age. I have two significant pieces of writing to my name. Perhaps I may be awarded a posthumous literary prize! Other people count success by whether they can get a good job and find a good partner and have their own happy family—but we all know that’s never been within my grasp. Therefore, my version of success: live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse. That’s such a cliché I can’t believe I just used it during such an important part! But it is true—I have followed that cliché to a T. But what other versions of success have I grasped? There was the applause for 28 ½ Cuts, an experience many people never have. There was the love shown to me by my first English class freshman year after that first essay I submitted. There are the two literary documents—the first, a heartbreaking novel about a doomed romance, the second, a memoir filled to the brink with pathos, a companion for any fellow sufferers of abject humiliation and self-inflicted hate. I give you all a giant hug from my soon-to-be sterilized lower east side apartment in NYC.
Notes on imperfection: if my first novel were good enough, it would have been published and I could have led a slightly different life than the one I’m in. But no. All the gods told me I was a failure as a scribe. I couldn’t put together a compelling enough query letter. I couldn’t get people interested in me. It’s all a matter of selling, right? Selling yourself in interviews with prospective employers. Selling yourself at bars with prospective lovers. Selling yourself in anonymous letters with prospective agents. I wonder why I even started writing in the first place. Oh wait, now I remember—I couldn’t deal with so many “teammates” on an original cinematic production. I didn’t like selling my vision to a group. I had to keep my vision inside my own head and waste two years, a year on it, only to see it come to nothing. Nobody wanted it when I presented it. There weren’t the right characters. There weren’t the right problems. There weren’t the right solutions. There weren’t the right concepts to stand behind. Excuses, excuses, excuses. There really wasn’t any talent in the first place. It was always people who I knew in person, telling me I had great potential, people that would be proud to know me if I ever hit it big—you can never have too many friends in this business. Entertainment. All 7 billion people on this Earth just want to be entertained. And all 7 billion just want to be entertainers, too. But who among us is actually educated in entertainment? What about educated in enlightenment? Despite the overcrowded marketplace, there is a glut of entertainment which does nothing to educate the dim swathe of America which will believe anything a talk show host tells them. I’ve worked my entire life to gain the respect of anyone in a position to judge my talent and here we are at the end, disillusioned, disappointed, crestfallen, dismissed.
There are successes and then there are greater successes and there are failures and then there are greater failures. Right here today, we mix the greatest success and the greatest failure a life contains. The greatest success—the completion. The greatest failure—the abortion. Do not misunderstand my use of the word abortion—I am pro-choice—I do not believe abortion is a sign of failure. In a way, it’s a sign of too much success. I suppose it only seems like a failure for all of those couples unable to get pregnant. A wasted gift.
We are at the end. Two cigarettes left. Smoke another.
What else do I have left to say? I’ve already sent my final messages to Samantha and Robby, my two closest friends in this life. What about Jake? Jake deserves a place in the end of this confession, because I admit with Jake, I was respected as an equal. He was an actor and I was a filmmaker. We were cut out of the same cloth. We were equally talented. He stayed in L.A. and I went home on the premise of guaranteed income. He stayed on his own and fended for himself. Jake, I admire you. That is my message to him. I admire him, I wish I had never stopped being his roommate. We made a pretty good team, didn’t we? We had some pretty good parties. We collaborated on some pretty good work. We had pretty good taste as far as people in L.A. are concerned. Jake, may this work become famous and may you rise to fame yourself for your role as a character in this story.
Who else is there to mention? Tim, my Canadian compatriot from French club? We never spent enough time together, Tim. I should have asked you if I could have moved in. More intelligent to live in Chicago than New York. New York may be where all the action is, but there’s just as much going on in Chicago. The attitude is the only thing that’s different. People in New York live life to the fullest because they’re aware of how thin a thread they’re hanging by, whereas people in Chicago live life to the emptiest because they’re completely confident they’ll be able to live forever and accomplish all of their family dreams. People in L.A., the majority of them, have their heads up their asses and don’t know hell from high water. The division of classes is more prevalent there than anywhere else. But Tim, I belonged in Chicago and if I hadn’t been so stupid, I might have been able to salvage something out of this heap I call my life.
Adam? Dare I mention Adam again? Or Tamara? To both of them I want to say: I regret my fear of boldness.
Or anybody else there was that I will never forget: Bill, Zack, wanting me for something that I’ll never be again. Nancy, Susie, Rachel, Jenn, treating me like a human being worthy of respect, despite less healthy qualities. Sean, Corey, teaching me how not to behave. Jessica, for introducing me to the concept of girlfriend. Rhiannon, for introducing me to the concept of discretion. Nick, showing me there was more than one way to be cool. Professor Diminico, Jackie, Professor Sheetz, making me feel like I wasn’t born on this earth to be a failure.
My parents, who don’t deserve to be treated like this. They never had anything but my best interests in mind. What a reward for them to receive for a job well done, giving their son the best education money could buy (within their means), giving him the freedom of an automobile, and giving him the autonomy to decide where he should make his home without discouragement.
Down to the last cigarette now. Smoke it! Sometimes questions like these are fun to answer: if you had to pick, what would be the last album you ever listened to before you die? The last song? I remember reading that Kurt Cobain listened to Automatic for the People and that Joey Ramone listened to All That You Can’t Leave Behind. There is the legendary listening of Iggy’s The Idiot by Ian Curtis. I’ve read vague things about a novel where a depressed girl plans to slit her wrists while listening to “Strawberry Fields Forever.” And I remember a friend of a friend once saying he would listen to Kid A if he were in a plane that was going to crash—maybe he was thinking of the song, “How to Disappear Completely.”
For my pick I choose Young Team. I plan to take the offending action at the start of the final track, and have everything ended by the close of its seventeen minute running time. I wonder if I should run a bath. We still have some time, maybe a little over forty-five minutes until the writing will be stopped. Oh, I’ll run a bath. I’ll bring this laptop with me in there and place it on top of the toilet.
This is intense! Every minute holds greater and greater significance. The decision is finally mine to be made. Nobody is going to stop me except myself. I can still call it off and call my parents and tell them that I can’t make it in New York and need to move home—could they send some money? I could even take that money and have more good times and do this again a week from now, lying to my parents, but that wouldn’t be polite. I at least want to go out as a thoughtful person, never asking for more than was appropriate at the time.
Let me offer one final shout at God: This is it! This is the brain you gave me, this is what it led to. Utter despair. Do you think I blame you for letting this world get too crowded, for letting opportunities come to the few that separate themselves by god-knows-what mechanism? No, I would rather blame my parents for having me. They didn’t deserve a child with my face, with my body, with my personality. They deserved the starting quarterback of the high school varsity football team. But it was you that made that decision, you that chose consciousness for me. I would rather be a non-entity, unaware that anything lively ever occurred. Knowledge and observation is a curse. To see all those people, complaining about not getting laid in a month. I went years until I had the boldness to bring back Trudie. And I even owe all of that to heroin. Why am I talking to God about my sex life? That’s so inappropriate it’s not even funny. Why are people so obsessed with their sexual activity? Why did you have to make me so abnormal in this category? Like that author whose name I won’t reveal said: sex is one of the four basic elements to the human life. And I am deprived of a normal one. Why? I’m intelligent, I’m attractive—what the hell is wrong with me? Oh, right, I’m just confused, that’s all. Just put it out of your mind. Life is not one big Greek drama, complete with a protagonist’s tragic flaw. It’s just babies being born, growing up, doing the things adults do, growing old, and dying. It’s just making a living, that’s all it comes down to. Work. Why can’t we all live in harmony, God? Why can’t there be enough for everyone to go around? Why do we always have to worry about how we’re ever going to be able to survive? Is it just this country I’m living in, that has perverted the basic elements of human existence, or is it the entire world, and is this place actually better than others? I don’t know who to believe about anything anymore. The greatest writers in history. Plato and Aristotle, Sophocles and Homer, Aeschylus and Aristophanes, Dante and Cervantes, Shakespeare and Milton, Lao Tzu, Flaubert and Balzac, Tolstoy and Kafka, Joyce and Proust, Nabokov and Mann, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. They’re the only ones I can believe. And who knows how many of them were motivated by commercial popularity. Who knows how many of them were fixated on immortality. I suppose I should believe in doctors who only have the health of their patients in mind. Or lawyers, who only have the freedom of their clients in mind. Or journalists, who only have the ideal of objective truth in mind. None of them can help me. I can’t join their ranks. There’s enough of them as it is. All that’s in store for me is low-wage slavery. What a fantastic way to go out. Barely squeaking past the rent every month. Only being able to afford the cheapest food, and then having to cook it myself, without anyone to share it with. Or else, with someone to share it with, but with constant anxiety in regards to conversation, tedium, fear of double-crossing. Better to be alone, to go out with a real bang, to show everyone I was here, I saw what it was like, and there wasn’t any place for me. Except being a loser that returned home to his parents without any money. And I will not give in to that failure. I will not be condemned to that life. Better to be an independent being, a victim of impossible circumstances, a fool perhaps, but a very talented one that went unappreciated. A person whose legacy is defined by this very document, a work of filth, a work of half-lived life, a piece that will live in infamy as the definitive treatise on inadequacy, depression, anxiety, self-injury, deviance, abuse, popularity, failure, bitterness, hostility, paranoia, competitiveness, dilettantism, and love—real , imagined, denied.
Enough with the grandiose vocabulary—are you still into it? I’m not. It’s time to go. I’m in the bathtub. Here’s my utility blade. You’ve been a wonderful audience. Let’s see how long I can last. Just like when you’re scared to do something, like jumping into a cold pool. One, two, three, go! Right one cut! Right one cut! Oh, the blood is spewing, it is spewing! So much! So fast! It’s crazy. Okay, left one now, left one now. And, left one cut! Left one cut! Oh, that is crazy. I should put my arms in the water for the soothing feeling but this is incredible, no one has ever written this way before, I swear to God no one has ever spent their last minutes writing as their life gives out. Oh, it would be soothing to put them in the water. There is pain, and blood is getting all over the keyboard, I hope the circuitry doesn’t become damaged and this document unrecoverable. A buzz! A buzz at the door. I must buzz them in. A visitor!
Well I just got out of the bathtub to grant them admittance to my building and I opened up my front door a crack so they can push it in. Maybe they will rescue me and bring me to the hospital and I will survive yet, but oh well! It’s up to them. For now, I’m going to stop typing. Put my arms back in the tub and relax. This song is so soothing.