Cruelty Analysis in the First Degree

 

When I was a little girl, or at least a less old adult, I decided to start a blog. I just fact checked the exact dates of the blog beginning, and it was July of 2010. Assumedly, a birthday had just passed (the 24th) and I was feeling, as the kids say, a certain type of way. Also coinciding with this summer was my imminent departure to Mexico, and I believe that I wanted to create a way for people to follow my adventures. I remember that I was sitting in the Starbucks on 181st Street (because I didn’t have Internet in the apartment because #2010 and #illegalsublet) attempting to start a blog when I saw an attractive guy with a tiny laptop. I decided to ask him about the tiny laptop and, inadvertently, ended up getting to know not just about the tiny laptop but the not-so-tiny, um, mouse? Keyboard? (Seriously, with the proliferation of technology, it’s crazy that there’s no cliche electronic euphemism for “dick”.)

And henceforth began adult tradition of letting sex get in the way of writing.

As adolescents, we’re chained in high school bedrooms that may as well be walled fortresses, especially if we’re the oldest of four. These are the years of late-night literary exploration, when the jargon of academic criticism hasn’t yet corrupted our consciousness and we’re still shaking stories as we read them because we’re so fucking jealous and eager to live. Reading books with towels in the door frame to block the light, four am with an eight o’clock alarm for a first period class that starts at 8:15. But it’s the suburbs, so it’s fine. Nothing is more than seven minutes from anything else.

Except the words on the page and the lives that are therein described. (Pre-jargon. Imagine.)

But we read, then, to write, and write we do: About crushes, about teachers, about blood – so much blood – and death. We whip out guns in the first scene and have them go off before we’ve reached the end of the first page, so anxious are we for drama and dazzle. Silver revolvers and champagne, someone’s insides floating inside a gym hot tub as “Wonder Boys” or “Igby Goes Down” played in the background in a VCR. The boys had parents then, and curfews, so even if we were smoking cigarettes out the window as our parents slept below, or sipping vodka on a Tuesday and faking drunkenness for an audience of ourselves in the mirror – never belligerence, just for the story – chained in the castle we still were, and writing our way out the only chance of freedom until Friday.

My point, then, is that although there were boys in high school, and more the thought of them than the actual boys (not including during summer), there was plenty of time to write.

Then college, and drugs. But drugs – oh, the drugs! Up the step ladder – caffeine, Ritalin, Adderall, Cocaine, words on words on words and vomit on vomit on diarrhea of the pen, ass, mouth, but in terms of production? Tomes. I took a memoir class and would literally submit stories about things that had happened during a night I hadn’t yet fallen asleep after.

But back to the blog. Once I transcended the sex by simply writing about sex (and then, when people were into it, witholding sex while I posted about other things), people were into it. But those were never the most popular posts. In trying to rejuvenate myself, and in seeking out the origin date of this blog, I was looking at its stats. I realized that there are several posts people have, over the years, consistently looked at.

One is about my 25th birthday, which suggests people have pseudo-nervous breakdowns on their Silver Anniversary of Existence and drunkenly google “25 + old + dream deferred.” Another is entitled “the Engagement Blowjob,” a response to a dumb-ass video in which people made a certain type of chicken that got men down on their knees proposing (you can guess what I advocated for instead). But the posts that overwhelmingly brought my stats into the – wait for it – triple digits for the day were the desecrating ditties about wretched roommates.

Though Germany is the inventor of the word, America is undoubtedly the country that drips schadenfreude in pathological quantities. Nothing makes people in this nation happier than reading nasty things about other people. We fiend for videos that shame our friends, take pride when our famous people flounder. We pray for scandal, beg for disaster, and then – worst of all – have the audacity to complain when we get what we asked for in the first place.

How so, then, to be a writer in an age where people scream for shame? A time when snark and revenge trump poetry and turns of phrase that keep us up at night under the covers, fighting the fall of sandy eyes just to know if the hero does, in the end, triumph over adversity? Have we seen the end of the hero’s journey? Have we replaced our protagonists with antagonists sans foils, making our entertainment into black holes of hatred and mockery?

Who knows? I guess the moral of the story is that, whenever I think about my life and feel that I’ve done nothing, I can at least take solace in the fact that there was a period of time when I lived in a shitty part of Washington Heights in a studio apartment with no bed, and still managed to have sex with four different dudes, three of whom I would probably still find attractive today.

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