Little Poor Me 3

Don’t get me wrong: mistakes have been made.

Love that passive voice, it really denies some responsibility.

But, if we can be honest: I have made mistakes. Many. Many upon many.

Mostly while drunk, let’s be honest. But, to be more honest, enough while sober to be ashamed. The fact is that drunk me knows that sober me has made, and sober me admits to the mistakes that drunk me has made. We complement each other. We give each other meaning.

I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, because it hasn’t told me yet. I’m listening very hard, but my life hasn’t spoken up. So I’m grasping in the dark, and holding on to anything solid. But there’s solid, and then there’s SOLID. The capitalized one is an imaginary solidity that I’ve invented to make myself feel better.

If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s because it shouldn’t. The point here is that we all have an idea. An idea of the real, or the good, or the right. An idea that’s an ideal — and it’s the L at the end that makes all the difference — an ideal of where we should be (and sometimes where we’ve been) or where other people are that we’re not as good as, or what we’re supposed to want.

Or something, or something, or something.

These are thoughts in a vacuum. They’re reflections of reflections; because, unless I can touch you, I can’t really tell you what I mean. I would have to hold you, and transmit it to you like a virus.

But then there’s this:

I know a man. A man who’s better than me. He’s one of many who are better than me, but he isn’t one of many in any other way. Because he’s wonderful.

He’s been through worse pain than I have ever been, and handled it better than I’ve handled the most minor pain in my life. He wears his intelligence lightly, like a hat, but he’s smarter than I’ll ever be. He’s fun and beautiful, and people talk about him when he’s not around, because they wish he was.

And I love him.

And I can never be him.

And I know it. So I try my hardest to be near him, and I try my worst to hurt him. Because, when I hurt him, he lessens, and grows closer to me; because I’m less than him.

This is a person. And it’s a specific person, and it’s a general person, and it’s a man, and it’s a woman. But it’s not me. It’s not even what I aspire to be. Not because It’s not what I want to be, but neither do I aspire to fly — because I can’t, and I won’t ever be able to. So I aspire to creep an inch or two ahead, not to leap the mile to where this man, and that woman, and those people who are so much farther ahead, and human, and warm, and strange, and important than I’ll ever be by a long shot.

So I sit and drink, and think and write.

I read and watch, and want and need.

And I’m alone, because you’re out there and I’m in here. Except you’re alone, too, because you’re in there, too. In your mind.

But I’m more alone than you are. So I win…

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Little Poor Me 2

Wouldn’t you be me if you couldn’t be anyone else? Because I’d be you.

So do me a favor, and be me for a little bit, so I can be you for the same.

I remember the first thing I thought as a child. I know a lot of people don’t remember the first thing they ever thought — almost no one, in fact — but I do. I thought: This’ll be easy.

Everything seemed like it would go pretty well. There were no obvious difficulties in my way. What a child I was! Smart, and other things. All kinds of other things. Good things, one would think. But (and here’s the really key part) I was also nothing special.

Somebody should have told me, and I would say that it wasn’t fair if only for the fact that it was also boringly, and completely normal. It’s the way that it is. Nobody tells you that you’re just the same….same…same as everyone else; or, rather, the same as everyone else who is also the same.

They’re out there: the Differents: the Betters: the Ones Who Are Remembered. You’re not one of them. No, I’m projecting.  You may be. I’m not one of them. But what I know is that the you who aren’t is a small number of the you out there, because the special you is exactly that: the special you. The special isn’t common, because common isn’t special. It’s common. And common is dot dot dot common.

My chemicals are me, and I am my chemicals.

We are, all of us, chemicals and their attendant reactions. Nothing new, nothing novel, nothing to surprise the twenty-first century mind. You know what you are, because you’ve been told. By science. Science knows, friend, and it told you: you’re chemicals. So I embrace it. I embrace my chemicals. And, as I feel those chemicals limiting me, I try to find other chemicals that will make me better than I am.

But they don’t.

They just make me feel better than I am.

Isn’t that enough?

The answer is probably no, but it feels like a yes. A finger slid on a smooth pipe of stainless steel feels like an orgasm, but it isn’t. Two thumbs pressed hard against my temples feel like an idea, but they aren’t. Shutting my eyes so tight it hurts feels like seeing something new, and who knows? Maybe it is.

Nothing gets better that hasn’t changed. Nothing changes. Entropy is a lie. Things don’t fall apart: They were always broken.

It’s okay, though. We’re too small enough to notice.

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Little Poor Me 1

Don’t freak out.
This is a fictional piece. Nothing I’m writing actually happened, it’s just a distillation of thought, feeling, and intuition. This is writing. This is the way that it works. Dickens didn’t know Oliver Twist, and I don’t know what I’m saying either. I’m just making it up.
Now that that’s out of the way: Everything I have to say is true.
The pillow is breathing at me. Something about the way I fuzz my eyes out and hold it in the bottom of my vision makes it do this. It’s a battered yellow beauty, with a lion’s-mane fringe, and I’ve got my foot propped up on it. The coffee table is hard on my heels.
The pillow stops breathing long enough for me to get some writing done – or, rather, taking my eyes off it to write makes it stop. Two drinks doesn’t seem enough to account for inanimate respiration. I found an old bottle of Remy Martin cognac today, and applied it to a little egg-shaped liqueur glass I dug out of the back of the bar. Don’t know when I’ve used it before; it still has newsprint on it.
I couldn’t do less with my life if I tried, and I won’t. I’m far too lazy to try to do less. This is exactly as little and exactly as much as I’m prepared to do. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it.
Either one would make me happier. Achievement or complete dissipation. They both seem fine, but I don’t have the stamina for them. I’m a Middle-of-the-Road, like most. It’s the easiest thing there is to be, and easy is all I know how to do well. Everyone knows that greatness takes talent — but really spectacular sinning takes talent, too.
A joke I used to toss off was that I’d never loved a woman as much as I loved a drink. When I’m drunk that bit of cheap wit makes me feel like Oscar Wilde, but it’s probably not true. Maybe. The truth is that I have never been allowed to hold anything that I’ve ever really loved.
That’s not true, that’s the drink talking. I’ve had more since I started. It’s pretty good cognac.
You can’t talk your way into being a better person. You can’t talk yourself into talent. You have to have it, or earn it. My talents lie in small and stupid directions, interesting only to me; and I’m not going to ever earn it. I have a sneaky hope in the back of my brain that someone will one day see me drinking a beer quickly, spouting out truly trivial trivia, making biscuits, and they will use their power to elevate that to the level of fame and art. Many people have that fantasy, but many people are better at more interesting things than I am. I’m worse at less interesting things, and that’s the wrong ride on the life spiral.
It really is very good cognac.
Being alone is never easy. It’s just easier than being with other people. You’ll never be able to give yourself as much as you ask for, but you’ll never want to give yourself less. You may strive for less; you may even think you deserve less, but you’ll never want less for yourself than you want. With other people…well, the math is more complicated. And yet, when you’re with other people, as much as you want to be alone, it’s never as much as you want to be with other people when you actually are alone.
I say you and I mean me. It’s an assumption. It’s probably wrong.
The thing about my friends is that they’ve taught me more about being a human being than I’ve ever learned from actually being one. I keep looking for someone who’s less worthwhile than me to be friends with, but no dice. Some come close: they should try harder.
Something seems wrong here. Something seems untrue; self-serving. That’s probably okay, though. It’s probably okay to just want people to tell you that you’re okay, that you’re not as bad as you think you are. Don’t, though. I’m not, and I am. Besides: This is just fiction.

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Poor Little Me 4

Poor Little Me 4

Other people must sleep well. They must, because the world keeps functioning with some kind of steady rightness.

I don’t sleep well.  Or, that is to say, not since a time before my memory of any sleep I have ever had. My memory of my past life is not very good. That may seem like a dramatically fictional statement, but what I mean by it is for more pedestrian. I simply have never had a very good memory for my own life. From what I can tell, it is hardly unusual for people to have foggy memories of their childhood. However, even at a young age I distinctly recall being unable to remember anything from a few years before. Even now, I feel my college years begin to slip away from me, just as I felt high slip away in college.

The earliest that I remember being obsessed with how poorly I slept was middle school. Even then, the memory is a palimpsest; a story told to a person told to a person, although the person was always me. You begin to buy your own fictions.

It never stopped. I know many people have trouble sleeping as teenagers, but it never stopped. I wake up tired every morning. I have woken up tired every morning since the beginning of time, as I reckon it. When I do wake up. When I haven’t been up all night.

Drinking helps.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the inability to sleep well is not principally horrific because it makes you tired. Its central horror is that it turns every day into wondering when you will get to sleep again. Spending your time waiting for the next time you will be asleep is a select kind of hell. Being unable to give a complete shit about the life around you because you can’t wait to be unconscious again saps what I can only imagine is a great deal of pleasure out of life. We reserve a special pity for those in comas, caught in a kind of limbo between life and death…but I spend my waking life dreaming of that limbo.

I can’t take satisfying naps. I can only fall asleep in the middle of the day for obscene periods of time that leave me feeling painful and unrefreshed.

The cliche bemoans us spending a third of our life asleep. Given the option in times of unemployment, I have spend as much as half the day (really, as much as two-thirds of the day) in bed, indulging in fitful and disappointing orgasms of sleep.

I don’t dream of a better waking life — indeed, I rarely dream. I daydream of a dark and dreamless sleeping life. Not death. Death scares me appropriately. Sleep is defined by waking, as everything is by its opposite. Really all I want is to wake up one day and feel satisfied. But isn’t that the goal of it all? Satisfaction?

If I haven’t been satisfied by anything else at this point, I can’t really ask it of sleep.

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Poor Little Me: 3

Poor Little Me: 3

I miss every girl that I’ve ever known. I genuinely do. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about most of the women that I’ve known in my life.

 Most women that I have ever met silently accuse me of being a misogynist — some of them loudly. I’m not. I’m just an asshole. Except for my sexual attraction to them (which is, at best, lethargic most of the time) I treat women exactly like men. The problem is 1) I don’t treat most men I meet very well, and 2) at this point I’m not sure that most women want to be treated exactly like men. I think maybe they want to be treated equally, but differently; and I don’t know what that differently is. Or something. Or not. I don’t know.

 But none of that is to say that I deserve any sympathy on that point. I’m still a lumpy crap of a person with a very-likely dysfunctional brain.  Which is what, deep down, I think that most people with an alcohol or drug problem think of themselves: that they’re missing something in the chemistry of their souls they can supplement with something else. But unlike them, I’m pretty sure that I probably can.

 Sitting at home I find myself pulling two, three beers from the refrigerator and bringing them into the other room with me. The reason for this is that I now drink a bottle of beer so quickly that if I only bring out one, I will be constantly running in and out to get another. Even with three beers, I can finish all of them before the last turns warm. Lukewarm even. Hell, it’s nearly ice cold. 

Given the chance, given the challenge, I think I would do almost anything for my friends. I’m so bothered by visions of my funeral where nobody comes, that I’m tempted to draw up a will stipulating that all of my money go toward food, alcohol, and travel money for anyone who wants to come. But, then again, what’s the point? I didn’t buy anyone’s love in life. In general, I’m closer to a dog than a human sometimes; eager to please to the point of annoyance, content with the scraps of human affection, but not to be trusted as part of the family.

 After typing that last part, I realize it’s not fair, accurate, or particularly true. The thing about the dog, anyway. 

Every time I talk to someone I really like I’m painfully aware of how inadequate I am to be their friend. When I hug someone I do so with a steady grip and my eyes closed, because I love so much to be close to another person. Every time I sit down to write, I know how unimportant what I have to say is. Every time I get on stage I feel almost paralyzed by the mediocrity which wafts off of me. Even walking down the street, I feel like an outsider and an outcast, with this one exception: I’m not that special. But you knew that.

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