There I am, sitting at the computer, and nothing is coming out. I feel nauseous. Isn’t this supposed to me great novel? Shouldn’t this come easy? But there’s this nagging suspicion that none of this is right. The dialogue is clunky, the characters are clumsy. None of this makes sense or feels smooth. Fuck. What am I supposed to do? Write through the awkward parts and hope it comes together? Or should I lazily meander into the world of online shopping for another 45 minutes and hope that by the time I come back to it, everything just works magically? Ok, no, enough of that, I’ve already racked up enough credit card debt on that shiny new credit card I got a couple months ago. Oof. Maybe time to start earning the things I’ve been buying and put the pedal to the metal. Right? Maybe money will motivate me? No? Still just sitting here with nothing coming out? Fuuuck. Should I get drunk? Sometimes that works. Turn on the TV? Give up? Why is this masterpiece still sitting inside me like a piece of rotting meat? Why isn’t it on the page already? Isn’t this supposed to be the thing that I do best? Write? Yet it eludes me. A fickle fucking mistress. I’m sick of this cat and mouse with the paper and pen. I want this to be done already. I want to be ready. I want to not have to think about the agony of writing and worry about other things instead, such as: will this be deemed a failure by society? Or, no, that’s what I’m thinking about now. That’s what’s stopping me. As usual. A whole host of insecurities that are adding up to: why not just masturbate instead? Masturbating is easy. I’m really good at masturbating. That’ll do the trick. I’m going to masturbate now.
I used to always keep a pregnancy test in my bathroom. You know, for emergencies. Just in case two forms of birth control (the IUD and a condom) magically failed me against all odds. It’s just another one of my histrionics. Despite the fact that the chance of me ever getting pregnant was probably zero, I still liked taking a pregnancy test every once in a while. Always while in a fit of depression, I would fret mercilessly about how my life was shit and hopefully I’m not pregnant, so I’d take a pregnancy test, and then I’d realize I wasn’t pregnant, and somehow that alleviated a small fraction of my depression because at least I didn’t have to deal with a random fucking baby now.
More recently, my period was three days late and I did that [not so] charming, neurotic thing that I always do whenever it comes pregnancy: full blown panic attack. Luckily I have friends who maintain a pretty decent relationship with reality, so I was reminded that, yes, I can just take a pregnancy test and stop pulling my hair out about whether or not I’m pregnant because what’s the point of that? (The point is that I like to torture myself because my life is going pretty well right now, so if I don’t torture myself, who will?)
So I went to the store, bought a fresh pregnancy test, made my friend cook me dinner, drank an entire bottle of wine and peed on a stick. Shit is stressful as fuck. I realized: there is no right answer here. I’m going to freak out if it’s negative, and I’m going to freak out if it’s positive, and I’m going to freak out if I change my mind and decide to keep not knowing. No wonder I suffer from anxiety – my emotional state is an insufferable, unfathomable paradox.
Anyways, now I know I’m not pregnant, but, yes, I still cried about it because I’m a fucking weirdo. Life is just so complicated.
He whispers into my ear, “What have you done this time?” So I run back to the bar, and order another drink, and wring my hands, and wonder where is the angel on my shoulder and why does it always abandon me in moments like this. Which means that I left here to sit back and sip shots and ruminate with the devil, who is not a small creature a top my shoulder, but a blistering, big man, all red in these leather bar seats, glaring at me with menace.
“Let me tell you about all your insecurities,” he says, encouraging me to drink more. “Let me tell you about all the mistakes you’ve ever made.”
I sit there, feeling nervous, trapped in this relay with the devil, who is grinning with glee as I melt beneath these dim, red lights. Where are my friends. Where are the people who love me. Where is the exit, and why don’t I have any courage to stand up and shout, “Leave me the fuck alone!” Why am I planted here, my feet rooted into the ground, like a caduceus intertwined with the snakes of the devil’s feet, too.
“Everything about you and everything you have ever done is wrong,” he tells me.
“I know, I know,” I respond softly. Maybe the devil will let me die here, burned to death by the spontaneous combustion of my heart that is in tatters right now.
“There is no fixing any of it now.”
“I don’t think I would ever try.”
“I give up.”
I look at the devil, hoping that this white flag will at least earn me redemption, but there he is, grinning like a winner in the battle for my soul. Well, no simile needed there because there it is, my soul, slipping slowly out of my body, pouring out of my mouth like a sad song, into the devil’s pocket. He has won.
Take this pain away from me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
I’m the world champion of self sabotage. Which isn’t an easy feat – it took years to get this good. To rationalize conflicting yet lofty ideals into a twisted mess of garbage. Leveraging the idea of dignity against the reality of compromise because for some reason I think that utopia is still owed to me despite the fact that I have not earned and it does not exist.
It’s a weird way to exist in this world: to know what happiness looks like, what it should feel like, yet still being unable to touch it.
I look at him before I walk out the door, and I wonder if this is the last time I’ll ever see him. Or, no – that’s too fatalistic. That’s not what I mean. What I really wonder is: how much longer? Time is ceaselessly marching on, despite my best efforts to stop it in its tracks, and as I leave this place with him in it, the dread of tomorrow settles in. Which isn’t to say that the dread of today has completely dissipated – these whimsical insecurities are still erupting in the back of my mind at an every increasing pace, and I can’t help but wonder which one of this nagging little demons will draw blood first. I’ve been making a habit of indulging my demons, which is why it’s easy for me to internalize any passing criticism as a volcano of my own paucity, in all it resplendent incarnations, be it sexual or moral or emotional or intellectual or physical or financial or social. But that’s okay, because I’ve made it through today and we are onto tomorrow at any moment now. I guess I am slugging my way through this one day at a time. Which probably isn’t how love or life are supposed to work, but it’s working for me, although maybe “working” is the wrong word. Perhaps I mean “barely functioning but at least not yet dead.” I am trying to be optimistic. I feel outpaced here. I feel the blankness inside me when I’m around him. The gaping, empty holes where my personality used to be and that are now just…desolate. This is becoming a mirror for all the things about myself that I slaughtered years ago in order to get someone who didn’t love me to like me just enough to make all of these feel worthwhile. The person I used to be. The person I wanted to be. The person I am absolutely not right now. Fuck. I don’t like this. But I also didn’t like the winnowing tedium that was me, billowing haphazardly through a life I tried not to notice. Waking up sucks. Waking up here is fine, though, because I know that there are a billion places worse than this that I could be. But I probably shouldn’t think like that because that’s how I got here in the first place. I’m supposed to be building a better dream for myself, but for some reason that tricky bastard time keeps running away from me. Time is elusive. I can never grasp it – it always seems to slip into pursuits that I don’t really enjoy and evade me when I need it the most. I guess I just wish I were a part of the pantheon that I always thought I belonged to. I thought I was smarter than this, but the world has done nothing for me if not let me know that, no, I am not a god among women. I am person among people, which feels grey, and now I am desperately scrambling to be anything other than just another – both in the grand scheme of things and also as I walk out the door and see him there. I might be fated to be just another. Perhaps destiny is not nearly as grand or glittery as I believed it would be when I was younger. Or perhaps arriving in the moment takes the excitement out of the years of anticipation. I am here, and I could be anywhere, and it would all feel the same. I think I liked getting here better than being here, because now that I am here I am faced with the unsavory onus of maintaining. But I don’t want to maintain – it’s not glamorous. I want to keep lurching forward towards something unattainable. I want to attain something that doesn’t feel like a finish line. I want the perpetual thrill, but I am afraid that death is the only thing leading in that direction. I don’t even drink that much anymore. Which is probably why I feel like I’m starting to become everybody else and less myself – there was too much pain in being myself, so I gave it up. Unfortunately, I gave up the rest of the world, too, and now I’m trapped here, dismerged from people, culture, time. Looking at the people around me in anger, wondering, “Why don’t you make it worth my while to be here?” Eh, fine, whatever, I will eventually finish watching all these TV shows, I will have caught up with all the conversations I wish I were having in my head, I will be whole. So I look at him, and I wonder, “When will he make me whole?” And the minute he makes me whole, is that when he will be taken away from me? I look at him one more time, because if this minute he makes me whole, then it will all be worth it, even if this is the last time I look at him.
“Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll give you dick later this week.”
Man…I did not want to hear that. For like ten million reasons. First of all, I rue the transactional nature of that statement. It’s as if to say my good behavior or generosity or patience are what merit me five to ten minutes of sex. Like sex is something I have to earn. Because otherwise, sex on its own is…what? Not fun? Has no inherent redeeming qualities? Why is sex a reward that is dangled in front of me like a carrot? Plenty of people are willing to give carrots away for free. In fact, plenty of people would pay me to take the carrot. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I ain’t no Dick Chasey. I can really just roll over and go to bed myself if that’s the current attitude towards sex. I’m not really feeling it.
Secondly, like, damn. I was really hoping that the commodification of the body was something that could be avoided here, but I guess not. I guess it’s ironic because traditionally it’s the other way around – usually I’m the one bartering my body for better treatment, more stuff, time and attention. Which is probably why the irony isn’t lost on me here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say: does this person even want to have sex with me, period? Or am I only fuckable after I check a couple boxes and do a few favors? Am I not, on my own, fuckable? Oh, Jesus, this is not good for my self esteem. Again, it’s probably better for me to find someone that is going to trip all over themselves in order to fuck me than to loiter around hoping for sex from someone who doesn’t seem eager to give it.
And, thirdly, damn things have changed. We’ve changed, this relationship has changed, our libidos have changed. I am (apparently) “not fun” anymore, which honestly doesn’t really bother me in terms of critical feedback because I’m not some god damn rodeo clown, I’m a woman trying to make a life for herself and all the people who care to join me on this ride. The petty games of withholding sex don’t really intrigue me these days – that shit is fucking joyless. I wanna fuck cuz I wanna fuck cuz I wanna fuck – there’s no need to dress it up in quid pro quo or make it a chore. Or make me feel like I’m the chore. It’s supposed to be fun, and if it’s not fun, then let’s not do it. There’s nothing quite like the threat of perfunctory fucking to make me feel like: no, thank you, now or ever.
Which isn’t to say that I’m unwilling to accommodate other people’s libidos or sexual needs. I like to fuck a lot – but I realize that sometimes I’m the only one. It’s not going to break me to scale it back. Yes, ideally I’d like to fuck every day, but if we only fuck once a week, that’s fine, too. In fact, there’s no obligation for us to have sex whatsoever! If the last time we had sex was the last time you actually wanted to fuck me, I can deal with that. I won’t complain. I’m not into coercing sex out of people who don’t want to give it. Willing participants only.
I was talking to Gangsta Boo about my recent frustrations with different men’s game. In particular, an episode wherein a would be paramour threw a mild tantrum when I didn’t want to spend time with him.
Gangsta Boo sagely told me, “He’s gotta not throw tantrums. How is he going to get a second chance if he throws a tantrum? I went out on a date with this girl one time, and she ran out in the middle of the date, but instead of throwing a tantrum, I went home and dealt with the rejection in private. Next time I saw her, I played it cool. Now that girl drinks my piss. That’s game.”
I looked back at Gangsta Boo, and before I could even finish thinking, “Who the fuck is this bitch?” It occurred to me, “Oh…that’s me.” Which also made me feel like: goddammit, did I get gamed? I mean, whatever, that was years ago, and it’s not like I’m here despite my better judgment or a lack of interest. But, yeah, that’s fucking game.
I’ll admit it – usually when I’m seeing someone I like to toss a little bit of rejection his way just as a litmus test. Not a major amount of rejection, mind you – I’m not trying to be cruel. I’m just trying to gauge: if I pull away a little bit, what happens? The tantrum? The cold shoulder? Contrived indifference? Emotional melt down? Or can you play it fucking cool? And still go after what you want? Determination, confidence, emotional agility – all the building blocks of game.