Have I lived a life worth writing about? I ponder this as I lie in bed at 11:30 am, not hungover but still feeling guilty about drinking alone in my room last night while watching TV because it was too cold and I was too lazy to go outside again. That doesn’t seem like a life worth writing about. Middling between the quasi-punk stylings of my early 20s and the aspirational reality of my early 30s, I think: well, I did plenty of wild things when I was younger. But now? The things worth writing about have slowed to a snail’s crawl. Is it interesting to feel lost like this? Is this what people want to read about? Or should I pick a direction and hurtle myself down that road, even if I have a sneaking suspicion that’s not where I should be going. Although being torn doesn’t feel very interesting, either. Perhaps I should just ride the coat tails of my own youth, which is slipping away from me, and write about that. Forever.
I was riding around with my friend and his ex-con friend and his ex-con friend’s girlfriend when the ex-con pulled out a bag of shrooms and offered some to us. I, being here on a work trip, politely demurred even though part of me thought: wait, don’t I consider myself to be a legendary pseudo-party girl? Isn’t work two days away? Why am I saying no to drugs, again? It occurred to me that maybe I’m not quite the pseudo ex party girl that I am in my mind, maybe I’m just someone normal doing normal things riding around in the back of a truck in the barrio (because it’s San Diego and that’s what they call this part of town). Sure, there was also the part where, eh, maybe I didn’t want to shroom with this friend in particular because he keeps on reaching around my waist in a way that should make me feel uncomfortable but when push comes to shove later tonight I will lock him out of his bedroom and tell him to stop, and maybe I don’t want to be on shrooms when that happens. But another part of me knows that there is nothing Cat Marnell-esque about me, not even after all those years of partying and drinking but now I feel so much less edgy as I yawn in the back of this truck and wait to slither off to my friend’s room where I will fantasize about the boy I fuck but still not masturbate because I’m at a point in my life where I not only know that masturbating in this guy’s bed while he sleeps on the couch would be rude, but I would also not take any pleasure in doing it, either.
Oh, San Diego. The city that I always say I would like to move to but never will. Because the Bay Area is stultifying in such a comfortable way, and maybe I’d rather suffer loudly than survive mediocrely in San Diego. Where I have friends and can be pretty. But I’d rather stay in the Bay where I can be mad at the world because of money and then also succumb to my own money hunger while acting like I have no other options. I have other options. San Diego is an option. LA is an option. New York is an option. But leaving? No, I could never leave the Bay Area. I bristle as I walk down the street in San Diego, knowing full well that I could live a happy, satisfying life here, but I never will because I’m crippled by my own anxiety and could never leave my home, which is on fire right now and crumbling and expensive and inhospitable. I’ll never leave because I don’t know how. It just seems so hard. Even though I refuse to do things that would make my life easier, such as not eating out every day and making new friends.
I am in San Diego. Which feels good, but would it feel good if I lived here or would it grow to be the same punishment that the Bay Area has become? I guess there’s something surprising about living in a B-List town that has suddenly become a petri dish of gentrification and social upheaval. On the upside, I can go anywhere else and proselytize about the impending doom of gentrification and how to beat it. On the downside, well. I’ll never have a home the way I thought I would have had a home in the Bay Area. But maybe it’s time to grow up and let go of that idea. This is about more than gentrification. This is more than growing pain. This is growing chaos. This is growing permanent damage. And I am the collateral. I could wax poetic about being spiritually homeless, but there are too many actual homeless people and I am not stupid enough to make that kind of poetic faux pas. I’m just disenfranchised and privileged. Ah, America. Always putting me in a place of disinteresting compromise.
What is happening to this place? It’s noon and there’s traffic already, or there’s traffic still, and commercials are airing on the sports radio station as we wait. And wait. To get home. Or to his home, where I’m driving him, because he’s tired and wants to go to sleep.
“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” he asks randomly. Throwing vast, sweeping questions into the air so we don’t have to listen to the commercials on the sports radio station because listening to commercials on the sports radio station means that we don’t have anything to talk about. God. Have I ran out of things to say to him? Maybe I’m just tired. Or anemic. Did I take my iron pills this morning?
“Do you mean that, like, geographically, or socially, or spiritually, or career-wise?” I ask, bristling at the randomness of the question, which just feels like a parlor trick meant to coax out an inevitable argument. I’ve been keeping the argument tucked neatly if still somewhat overrunning at the back of my throat for weeks now. There’s no need for an argument. Just suffer. Suffer through it.
“Just, like, whatever,” he responds, which irritates me.
“I don’t see myself living in the Bay Area in ten years,” I respond.
“That’s not what I meant.”
I sigh. I sigh a lot nowadays. It’s a symptom of giving up. On him. On here. On myself. I’m just kinda…here. In a depressing way that I’ve been avoiding talking about for a while now. I drink a lot more recently. In a medicating way, too. Like I’m trying to cure myself of the time that I’m wasting away by being like this. It’s not anybody’s fault, really. I can blame him if I try hard enough, but I’m too lazy for that, so I accept responsibility for my own misery and blame it on this place. The new people who are here. The new people whom I hate and I don’t want to befriends with and whom I don’t want to fuck. It’s their fault.
He’s fine, he’s just here in my life in a purposefully inconsequential manner. Which I’m not supposed to write about but there’s really nothing else to write about. Writing about anything else will make me sound bitter. Maybe I already sound bitter.
I leave him at his house and go downtown and pay $22 for a salad with chicken, which I can expense on the company credit card, but, even so, it feels profligate. But that’s okay, because all the new people pay $22 for the salad with chicken and I bet most of them don’t have company credit cards. Me? I pat myself on the back for being clever enough to not really have to pay for my salad with chicken. Although if I were truly clever, would I still be here? Maybe I’m only clever part of the time, like when it comes to being employed by a company that offers health benefits, but not when it comes to living in a city that is capable of supporting my vision of myself as both an artist and a career woman.
Maybe I’m just angry that capitalism has finally caught up to me. I liked it when I was young and the economic forces that be didn’t care that I paid $312 for a room in West Oakland, stole from my job and ate bags of chips from the corner store. Now? I have to pay for Internet, phone bill, Netflix, Spotify and Hulu, which is way more than what I used to pay. It used to just be electricity, maybe also water. You could listen to the radio and watch videos from the library. Although, I guess Netflix is cheaper than Blockbuster. Spotify is cheaper than buying CDs. Who knows.
I meander into some bar because I’m glamorous like that and also because it’s my job. I do that for the rest of the day before I go home early, as usual, and sit in bed and eat peanut butter cups and wilt away on the Internet. I’m not sure what I’m grieving about, but it sure is painful.
I must think I’m pretty cool, huh. As I’m sitting in the bedroom reading my Michelle Tea book while over in the kitchen they’re snorting coke. I’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour so I can wake up in the sunshine and scoot off to Alameda to do my normal job. Where I’ll interact with normal people and secretly feel better than them because I’m cool enough to be the chick in the bedroom at the coke party. Where I also feel better than everyone snorting coke in the kitchen because I have a real, adult job to attend in the morning. What a boring conundrum. I should just pick one and commit to it, but I think I might be the type of person who likes having a ‘secret lifestyle.’ Like if I were a successful career man, I’d have a secret stripper girlfriend. But I’m not, I’m just an overgrown adolescent with a semi-legit job and friends who do coke on Monday nights. I don’t do coke on Monday nights, though. My friends do. I’m not sure if the reason that I don’t do coke on a Monday night is because doing coke on a Monday night is a loser thing to do at this age, or if I’m too much of a loser to do coke on a Monday night. I used to do coke on Monday nights, four years ago, but life changed and now I read books in the bedroom while everyone else gets wasted. I fuck someone who does coke on a Monday night, but loves to point out to me that I’m not nearly as fun as I used to be. I resent him for those kinds of statements and quietly remind myself that I make more money now that I’m less fun. But shouldn’t having more money be fun? Why am I less fun now?
On Tuesday afternoon when he gets up he chops up more lines so he can stay awake long enough to drop me back at home when I get off of work, and I stand there and watch. He offers me a line, and I say no, even though part of me wishes that I were cool enough to say yes. But I know what yes would mean: a thirty minute drive through rush hour traffic, gritting my teeth and then picking a fight, then sitting at home alone while the coke rush fades at 5:30 pm. After which my skin would feel dirty and I’d have to scrub myself off in the shower for too long, hoping that my roommates aren’t resenting me from the other room for not conserving water like we’re supposed to because it’s California. Okay, I’ll pass on the coke this time, and I tell myself it’s not because I’m uncool but because what ever brief coke rush I would have would be uncool. Instead, I watch him snort his lines, and we both know I’m judging him as he meanders into the other room, leaving me there next to the plate that used to be full of cocaine. Although, I don’t know why judgments are always perceived as negative. I think I have passed a positive judgment on him, even if it looked slightly bitchy as it passed through my mind. I was judging him to be much cooler than me, and as I stood in the kitchen and was part of his life for those forty five minutes, I was happy that he gets to be cool. That he gets to live that life and enjoy it. I don’t think I’d enjoy living his life, which is why I live mine, driving soberly through traffic back home to look at more spread sheets and fantasize about being someone much more interesting than myself.
Also, hi, I’m making a ton of progress on my novel. I got a lot of work done in New York, but I’ve decided to ‘white whale’ it, which means I have to add some more heroin and fist fights, so when I’m done with that I’ll let you guys know. It’s the main reason why I post way less frequently on here – blogging can really detract from the novel writing process, but I’m PMSing tonight so I thought I’d spew some swill here before hitting the book hard again tomorrow.
We were going to Motown Monday.
“Are you trying to be romantic with me?!” I asked with a grin as we drove over to the bar.
Ugh, my joke was lost on him. Or, it wasn’t a joke, it was more of a desire wrapped up in a light hearted tone just in case he thought that the implication was ridiculous. The implication being: let’s fuck in the bathroom.
Clearly, he wasn’t picking up what I was putting down. Which made me feel slightly sour because our fifth fuckiversary is coming up at the end of this month or some time in the next month (I’ll have to check the logs to know for sure) – did he completely forget? Is it just a coincidence that he’s taking me to Motown Monday circa our 5th fuckiversary? Or is he just playing it cool because he’s going to surprise me with some bathroom dick in the very same bathroom where we first had sex five years ago?
We sat at the bar, and he pulled out his phone and scrolled through Amazon in search of new work out equipment. I sat there next to him, drinking my whiskey with my tits popping out, feeling too pretty for a dive like this. It felt like a pretty authentic recreation of our original dynamic five years ago: me being thirsty and overdone, him ignoring me. I slid my hand onto his thigh and said, “Hey.”
“I’m looking at this right now,” he said. Oh, god, this is getting cruelly authentic. Five years ago I tried to pull the same move, vying for his attention, and he had shut me down pretty hard. But I’m a motivated woman, so when he went upstairs, I followed him, this time as well as that first time, and into the bathroom. Where he talked to his friend for twenty minutes.
He didn’t even try to fuck me in the bathroom!
I mean, I guess we did go home together, so at least I got that going for me. But we didn’t even fuck because ‘somebody’ chafed their frenulum.
“If we have sex, I could tear my frenulum, and apparently that’s really painful, so probably best to just wait it out.”
“Oh, so I might break your dick?”
“Yeah, and apparently it can get really bloody, too.”
“Really! That’s so cool! Wait – is that a come on? Cuz fucking you til your dick bleeds sounds…pretty fucking hot to me.”
“No, I’m serious, it’s gonna be a couple days.”
“Wow, so you’re just going to rob me of the chance to break your dick and have it shoot blood all over the place? This is my one opportunity to hop off and know that I’m not the one bleeding everywhere.”
After lengthy conversation, I realized that this wasn’t a come on or his attempt at upper level kink. Heart breaking! It was actually a legitimate medical condition. So I tried not to be an asshole about it, and I respected his boundaries. But we fought every day after that because we are not fun to be around when we’re not getting laid.
I was at a work event, day lighting as the normal person that I am all the time, when a well respected colleague of mine approached me.
“A********” she said. (That’s someone’s name.) “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about her.”
Ugh. Her. It hadn’t occurred to me that they knew each other, but they do, so, fine, let’s do this.
My colleague wanted to talk about an altercation I got into with that person eight years ago. Yeah, eight years ago. I mean, I get that we’re all “cancel culture” nowadays, and we’re having all these heavy, pop-philosophical conversations about “to cancel or not to cancel – that is the question.” As someone who had a great time during the early days of local Internet cancel culture, I would just like to assure everybody that the point of cancelling people was to root out people who were racist or sexist and remove them from positions of power in our society. No more secret nazis pumping coded racist messages into our news casts, no more closet rapists leveraging power to coerce sex from us, no more heroes who only save themselves. Sure, the conversation has become deeply nuanced to the point where we’re splitting moral hairs, but I’m trying to keep my ‘cancel culture’ commentary brief so let’s just stop there.
I was standing there, wondering, ‘Is this bitch trynna cancel me because I did some unfeministy things eight years ago?’ There was that deep, narcissistic part of me that knew, ‘If I’m about to get cancelled, I probably gotta take it lying down,’ but then the self effacing part of me replied, ‘I’m not important enough to get cancelled.’ It’s a complicated mixture of self loathing and low self esteem.
Sure, I’ve done some things in the past that don’t align with my current ‘woke’ persona. But I grew up Catholic, so I know how this game gets played: I confess my sins to Jesus, get absolved, and live a good life and let everyone know that “I’ve found Jesus.” Born again Christians do this shit all the time – they act like they’ve been absolved of all responsibility for their sinful, pre-Jesus ways and everything’s fine now. So, is there a feminist equivalence for that? Can’t I say, “I converted to feminism on May 8th, 2013, look, here’s my stamped card to prove it” and we can all move on. Although, I guess there’s all those not-so-feministy things I did after May 8th, 2013, but if we’re not talking about those things right now, I won’t bring them up.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: why are you dancing in circles trying to avoid cancellation when you have danced in glee at other people’s cancellation parties? Well, let me tell you, the sin of self preservation is pretty inexplicable. But, what can I say, don’t we all enjoy the tire fire sideshow of watching someone else’s life burn to the ground? I’ll admit it. I love to see it. On the other hand, self immolation? No, I’ll pass on that one. Or, to put it lightly, you are correct, this is entirely self serving.
So, I brushed it off, said something like, “Oh, man that was so long ago, I’ve changed so much since then,” ran out the bar, called bae, and said, “Why do I have to deal with consequences for my actions! It’s not fair!”
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“I’m not that person anymore!” I whined.
“You were never that person.”
“You’re right. I was never very tough. That’s why I bought that gun.”
Then I went home, had a bunch of controversial opinions about a variety of hot button topics, kept them to myself, and the next day I slunk back into society and pretended like I belonged there.