• the only one i ever liked

    In the past, I dismissed the idea of finding a romantic partner that is too much like myself. I wanted to be challenged and corrected where needed (and I was long overdue for a tune-up), while also enabled to an extent, of course… It’s foolish for someone to expect me to love them as much as I love cigarettes, and why should I stop drinking? Everyone else in my industry does it! 

    I eventually met someone who engaging in conversation with felt as if they were reading my mind back to me — the good parts of it, none of the rot — and our connection was so beautiful that I realized that I was so full of shit, but obviously still able to talk out of my asshole to convince myself that “opposites attract” so I could further cling to the quixotic delusion that my soulmate was a different man whom I had a 10-year-long entanglement with. We had nothing in common besides neither of us knowing how to put an end to The Eternal Return™ and a mutual understanding and admiration for my fellatio skills. 

    (He would likely cringe and scold me had he known that I, once again, mentioned him in the same paragraph as an extended metaphor for pooping, and I had the gall to think we could live happily ever after. I take five shits every morning… What the hell would I do? How would I live? Would I have to feign suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and that I am not, in fact, holding up the wheels of progress to evacuate my irritable bowels yet again, but to knock on the wall that just so happens to be next to the toilet 17 times every 30 minutes or so before I permit myself to leave the house? 

    Sometimes, I am so stupid that it hurts.)   

    …Alas, the mirror I met that reflected only the best version of myself and I wanted to gaze into forever accidentally dedicated his heart to someone else before we stumbled upon one another, so this is not a triumphant story of someone who wrote a book about the treacherous lands their irrational vagina led them through finally stumbling upon healthy, genuine love… Maybe one day, but divorces are expensive and I can’t dismiss that I only feel so strongly about him because he is, by law, unattainable, and I love suffering. 

    This is a story of how I met someone who was far too much like me and he threw up on our first date. 

    It was the first day of high-school and the boy who sat behind me in homeroom class said, “Is that a Glassjaw shirt? Nice.” 

    Assuming I was the only 14-year-old with elite and erudite enough taste in music to enjoy the likes of Glassjaw and their hypnotizing ballads about whores sucking upon “dicks that cum lead” because I had been viciously defending that stance with other, lesser teenagers on various message boards since middle school, I was taken aback. Feeling a flicker of hope that whoever they were, they uncannily resembled Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance during the Three Cheers era, I turned around to respond, but he was a fucking dweeb. He looked like the exact kind of person who would spend their Friday night arguing about the origins of post-hardcore on a message board. He looked like me. 

    Years passed through senior year to graduation; Odd Future was the newest craze for every kid who thought they had edgy taste, and I could no longer tolerate screaming in music because I was high all the time and it stressed me out. I got hotter but never much cooler, and he lost his baby fat and fell into the group of “cool guys” because he was shrewd enough to keep them out of serious trouble and probably a welcomed relief to the women that lingered around them because he could actually hold a conversation. 

    We somehow got to talking regularly, likely because I “understood Kendrick Lamar’s genius” or we both worked in restaurants or some shit, and it was like talking to myself. At 19, that mesmerized me: Most men I interacted with were morons that I permitted to come over because they were decent looking and their weed was even better, and he had a beautiful last name that I wanted as my own and I couldn’t wait to tell people that our first ever encounter was over my beloved Glassjaw.

    (I knew the man I briefly mentioned in the introduction and I were in for a whirlwind of trouble when one night, I was smoking a cigarette by my car because I had downed a gin martini in one sip and needed a moment to collect myself and remember basic facts, such as my first name and what year it was. He walked up and we got to talking, the conversation careening from our preferred liquor varieties to music. He laughed at my enthusiastic rambling because I was drunk and that’s what drunks do, and just before he got in his car to leave, said, “Rose, your Every Time I Die fandom is just… gorgeous. How much you love them is the cutest thing. Have a good night.” 

    Because I never grew up — I only got older — I jerked open my car door, plopped down, melted into the seat, and fell in love.)

    One night, it was blizzarding out and one of the homies was in a desolate state: Not only did she believe she was pregnant, but we were out of weed to smoke about it. We were in the middle of making a party banner that read “IT’S AN ABORTION,” the metallic letters dulled by smudges of black coal because the kitchen table was not for eating, but smoking hookah on, when he, my Glassjaw-loving-obvious-other-half, came through. “…While I am going to ignore the peculiar and questionable circumstances you listed regarding why you and the homies are desperate, I would never deny a pretty girl in need of weed,” he said. 

    We piled into the (rumored — we later learned that she wasn’t pregnant, she just had… cancer… common mistake…) child’s father’s 1993 four-wheel-drive station wagon, and peddled at about five miles-per-hour to his house. I blushed as everyone fawned over how sweet he was to be willing to help us in such precarious conditions; you would’ve thought him not letting a snow-storm stop him from making $40 (as long as we came and got it) was the modern-day equivalent of him placing his jacket over a puddle so I didn’t muddy up my kitten heels. 

    Winter turned to warmer weather, but we never progressed and it confused me. We made dates and he would bail; he’d disappear for weeks; I chalked it up to the fact that while I was vastly intrigued by him and how much we had in common, he was probably intimidated for the same reason, while also not dismissing that if really was that similar to me, then he just may be a piece of shit. 

    One day, he texted me that he was “finally” going to take me out — no more “bullshit,” he promised — and invited me to a hookah bar. While I did feel an immediate deluge of shame that his idea of making up for his elusive, shitty behavior was treating me to an evening at a hookah bar, it was short-lived because, well… that was my ideal, perfect date spot. I loved our hookah (and I am fairly certain that is what gave my best friend cancer because we didn’t know you had to regularly clean it for the first six months we had it and scooped out nearly a pint glass of a mysterious green sludge when I finally did) and the guaranteed nicotine intake eliminated the possibility of me spending this date suffering as I did through so many: dreadfully nervous and thinking only of cigarettes… trying to listen to my date and provide thoughtful, articulate, and charming responses despite their profile fading out as they morph into a life-sized Marlboro 27… and desperately wishing they’d get an important phone call with desolate news that would occupy and distract them long enough for me to sneak off and chain smoke enough to turn me back into a normal person who is ready to love and be loved in return. (So about three, at least.) 

    He picked me up, and I was in such a surprised daze to be actually sitting next to him and on our way to spend a few hours together that I did not notice that he parked his brand new car (meaning a 2015 model… in the year 2014… just got it that week… I gushed appropriately…) by a street sign, of which I gracefully slammed open my door directly into. 

    We got a table and a hookah and began chatting away, in between me puffing away (probably to such an extent that the state of Virginia had to issue a fog-warning that evening), and he must have felt inclined to keep up with me, which I either did not notice him struggling at through the thick cloud of smoke or because I was too occupied with my two favorite activities — smoking hookah and sharing only the most hilarious and impressive anecdotes about myself — because I was a bit surprised when after only thirty minutes, he excused himself to the bathroom, and then asked if we could leave: I had… out-smoked him to such an extent that he vomited.

    “Oh… Well… Ok…” I muttered, slowly lowering the hose from my mouth to finally note that he was, indeed, pale… and then took another enormous drag because he paid for it and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. 

    He apologized incessantly for the first few minutes of the car-ride home until I interrupted him. 

    “Did I really out-smoke you until you barfed, or were you just having a bad time? You can be honest.”

    He laughed. “No, Rose, you out-smoked me. I promise. We’ll go out again soon.”

    I was the kind of girl that you took to a hookah bar; I was a human chimney; I was an emetic; I was a pillar of shame. “That’s so embarrassing,” I groaned. “…For me… Not you… Don’t bother taking me home… Find a steep ditch, slow down to about 50, and kick me out… I deserve nothing…” 

    Shortly after, he fell madly in love with someone who looked just like me but had a bigger butt and better dental, and I watched them and their happiness from a distance… while probably smoking hookah and a cigarette at the same time. 

  • you have shattered all of my dreams

    I spent the past few weeks rehearsing the confrontation I intend to have with this man whenever he finally acknowledges that I still exist. As my preferred approach to alleviating the pain of his absence and occupying myself during these intervals as they become more and more frequent, I am always doing this with him in one way or another: All of my works of “fiction” are discussions that would benefit us both to have and for that, will never be held, or amendments made to arguments so their conclusion resulted in progress being made in our relationship. “Relationship.” 

    In real life, this is never the case. We both give our best performance, dancing around what we desperately wish to say, and are no longer surprised when our output reflects the lackluster effort we put in. Nothing ever changes but the subject, cautiously, like an attempt to recover an awkward interaction with a stranger, and we both sleep decently knowing that our days’ level of chaos never really elevated above “average.” 

    It probably portends something about my writing career that the only thing I have ever penned that is teeming with enough metaphors to be dissected in a community college course is my “hot dog story,” “My Only Sunshine” from Nothing I Do Is Funny Anymore. As I personally read books, I diligently comb through every line, desperately looking for a passage that encaptures my precise emotions and describes them in a way that I wish I could, so I suppose it’s only appropriate that I, a “writer,” finally wrote it — the one — myself. It is even more fitting that as the writer, it took me a month after the story was released to the public to distance myself enough from sentence structure and formatting and punctuation placement to acknowledge and give myself praise for what I had accomplished with my words. 

    “My Only Sunshine” is a common story, really… Certainly relatable to someone, even if only to an ambiguous, open-to-interpretation extent. One character appears to have everything they ever wanted, though such a successful lifestyle always requires a certain amount of sacrifice, typically in personal relationships. Our version of this character profile struggles to form a deep, visceral, genuine connection with everyone they meet; by chance, they encounter our other main character who suffers from the same lack, but for entirely opposite reasons: it is not an eminent “immortal entity”; its existence is dismissed as worthless by most — “…far beyond its expiration date, discolored and greasier than anyone would hope to find it, and misshapen from being handled constantly.” 

    That’s me. That’s my character. I am a whore. I am dead and don’t know well enough to lie down because I can’t smell myself. 

    In this story, I am a hot dog. 

    My muse for this particular absurd essay plays himself, feeling disparaged by the realization that his long-awaited and well-deserved deification did not quell his loneliness, only heightened it, likely securing its permanence. Our two main characters, enchanted by this uncustomary, instant connection, immediately form an illogical, fatal attachment to one another. They were able to bask in the sudden abundance of unfamiliar intimacy at first, but the story takes place once the grave reality of their situation becomes too blatant to ignore and tensions begin to rise: This will not last — they cannot be —  there is nothing to be done about it. 

    In real life, my muse’s ambiguity, reticence, temporization — dishonesty, really — regarding why we cannot be together has been extraordinarily painful for me. The possibility that he cares about me too much to admit that despite our profound connection and all the years of palpable emotions behind it, I am not good enough for him to view me as anything more than a friend, hurts. 

    To eliminate the constant, unspoken uneasiness brought on by this lingering uncertainty, I made the reason behind our inevitable doom in “My Only Sunshine” obvious, even to someone hopelessly hopeful like myself: My character is a fucking hot dog, and he is a human. (To quote the horrendously written, bizarre fanfiction written about him that I absolutely plagiarized when writing the story: “Stop being dumb. He’s a human and your [sic] a hot dog.”) Their separation is inexorable and this will not have a happy ending. Everyone knows this; our two characters know this; still, they cling to the comfort of ignoring and prolonging the inevitable, though ironically, the hot dog appears to be the more grounded and shrewder of the two, perhaps due to an awareness that something like this was never meant to happen to It and should have never happened to It. It had only one path and was somehow thrown down another as if It were mistaken for something else, something luckier. Deceived by a false promise of glory, me, the hot dog, temporarily believed that it somehow deserved this stroke of luck as if it were Its destiny — “It didn’t know what it really deserved because it was a hot dog, but wanted whatever he would give it. It was only speculating on what being sliced in half and grilled to serve truly felt like because he saved it from such a fate.” 

    Following that paragraph, we jump forward in time, to where this once glorified aberration has lost its luster for the hot dog. It can see that to be teased with something so intangible is unfair and wishes that It had just been allowed to serve Its only true purpose for the other character, or for anyone: to be eaten. Still, it is hurt when he suggests that he feels the same, even though he appears to be only teasing — “You hate me and regret ever meeting me and want me gone. Eat me, then. I’m fucked and spoiled. I’ll poison you.” 

    The hot dog is physically incapable of removing itself from the situation and feels intrinsically powerless compared to him. To the hot dog, he is a God and It is nothing; much like a human, this was an attempt to bargain with the gods. 

    Now, how is he feeling about their impending doom? We don’t know because he won’t say. He actively participates in the conversation — “Am I not listening to you right now? It sure seems like we’re having a conversation.” — but infallibly deflects when the hot dog broaches the subject of their (lack of a) future together, eventually admitting that he “hasn’t thought about it,” but is that the truth? As a reader, an impartial observer, what do you think? I’ve had to ban myself from wondering. 

    The story ends inconclusively, though their fate was foreshadowed numerous times as a motif. The readers know what happened to them for it seems undeniable, and yet, I, the author, still don’t! I am waiting to find out! 

    Alas, the dialogue in this story was based entirely off a real argument that took place over text messages, reworded and corrected to be suitable for print because I was drunk and he is an idiot. If I were to write a sequel and adhere to historical accuracy, the hot dog would still be propped up in Its mug full of ice, horrendously dilapidated beyond belief. It would spend more time locked away in a corner of his fridge because It is repulsive to look at and Its effluvia has grown unbearable: It’s truly disgusting. He may keep It in Its own separate fridge so he can keep It hidden from everyone else, just like he does to me. 

    While the hot dog has repeatedly begged to be discarded, he will not get rid of It because he still needs It; though he refuses to admit it, the hot dog was right: He has yet to meet anybody he can talk to in the same way. “…Entertaining, bullshit conversation that doesn’t mean a thing. That was all you knew before I came around and that’s all you get when I am gone.” 

    He cannot fathom a day where everything is too much and too loud and too painful and the hot dog is not there to calm him, which the hot dog always does, nevermind that everything for It is also too much and too loud and too painful and It can no longer ignore how he involuntarily cringes at the sight of It. It continues to welcome when It is needed by him because he is all It has. The only remaining hope the hot dog has resides in why he is so obviously reluctant to irrevocably part ways. 

    That is why, despite tirelessly drafting and rehearsing how I would promptly dismiss the man behind the story when he summoned me, just as he always does, when he opened my fridge door, I was disarmed. 

    “Hello. What have you been up to?” He asked. 

    Metaphorically rotting in a mug full of ice, long-since melted into water from neglect, waiting for you to remember where you last left me. 

    “Influencer shit, a little bit of editing. How’ve you been?” I said. 

    “I’ve been so depressed the past few weeks and it’s gotten bad enough that I stopped eating. Today is the first day that I have forced myself to clean and catch up on projects. Just wanted to see how you were doing and let you know where I’ve been, in case you were wondering.”

    Oh, no. I didn’t wonder at all. You never crossed my mind. You rarely do. You see, I’m very busy. 

    “Oh, Christ. What’s going on?” I asked. “I know you prefer to retreat inward when something is awry, but you know I love talking to you, and I’m always here.” 

    Rotten but required, the hot dog responded, attentive and entranced because it still did not want to go away and continued to prefer to ignore that it was inevitable. 

    (Artwork by @maddykeener.art on Instagram.)

  • cum guzzling thunder cunt

    It is Thanksgiving 2020, and what resides at the top of my “do yourself a favor and don’t think about this” list is what I have to be thankful for this year. I’m not short on “blessings” — truly, my current situation could be far, far worse — but that would require reflecting on this past year, and you know what? Doing such a dangerous task with a hangover sounds like a good way to end up crying so hard that I vomit, so instead, I am going to write about how I got suspended from school sophomore year for getting beat up to the point where my boyfriend had to intervene. 

    (He merely restrained her by pressing his knee into her throat. She turned purple as she experienced severe difficulty breathing, struggling to gasp out, “SOMEONE GET THIS FUCKING [insensitive slur for gay men, don’t make me repeat it] OFF OF ME,” but still, this upset a lot of people; an angry mob of teenagers formed on Facebook.)

    After three weeks, I finally returned to school, assuming that shit, I’ve been gone a long time! There was simply no possibility of anyone remembering that embarrassing little skirmish! Certainly those who were threatening death upon my boo for beating up a girl (kind-of-sort-of, but not really… you know how rumors fly and people just love adding their own spice to a story… who knows that better than a writer, and I was even one back then because I didn’t have any friends and thought that if I talked to myself on paper, I would finally shut the fuck up for good) forgot all about their elaborate plans for violent retribution! 


    He high-fived me, but I think he meant well. I sunk into my seat.

    The fight started over the girl taking it upon herself to defend my best friend’s honor after her and I had a brief and petulant falling out. She posted “Rose Damian is a cum guzzling thunder cunt” on Facebook — I left a comment impolitely disclosing I found her to be a tad overweight — she responded by politely disclosing that she was going to beat the fuck out of me the next day. I turned to my boyfriend. 

    “It has been brought to my attention that she is going to beat the fuck out of me tomorrow.” 

    “It’s just Facebook,” he shrugged. “You know she won’t do shit.”

    Well, tomorrow came, and I heard her ominously sauntering to my direction from afar because she was wearing those scratchy pants made out of windbreaker material and I thought, “Oh, god damnit…. I am supposed to get beat up today! She came prepared! She’s in loungewear! How did I forget?” 

    “Rose, you’re a dumb fucking bitch and if call me fat to my fucking face, I will rip your fucking hair out,” she spat.

    I, a dumb fucking bitch with a miserable fucking attitude when I was a teenager despite possessing not once ounce of physical force to back any horrendous statement my fucking mouth loved to spew out, smiled. 

    “Okay.” I paused for dramatic flair. “…Fatty.” 

    A woman of her word, she ripped my fucking hair out.

    My boyfriend was napping against my shoulder because for him, night time was for playing World of Warcraft, and school time was for sleeping. (He spent his entire four-year high-school career in the ninth grade.) He continued to nap through the first ten seconds, later admitting that he “felt me get pulled away but thought I just got up to hug somebody” — a completely illogical deduction because I had no friends and I do not hug. He was finally roused from his idyllic, angelic baby slumber by me yelling, “FUCKIN’ HELP ME!” 

    He snapped her fingers back so she would let go of my hair; owie; her fingers hurt and she didn’t like that; now mad as shit, she started beating him up… and that brings us back to him sitting on top of her with his knee in her throat, her yelling [insensitive slur for gay men, don’t make me repeat it, I only included it to unload some of the well-deserved ignominy I will receive for admitting that I frequently fat-shamed other girls when I was 15 onto her], the principal pulling my boyfriend off of her, and me back-handing her in the face good and hard because I saw an opportunity and I went for it, like most pussies (or “cum guzzling thunder cunts”). 

    That’s how I got suspended and legally charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct. Had I not taken my cheap shot like the spoiled bitch I was, or, as the principal suggested, “put a chair between her and I to prevent her from attacking me” (as if after somehow releasing myself from her talons’ grip, I would run to the cafeteria, grab a chair, and run back to place it between us instead of RUNNING THE WHOLE FUCKING WAY HOME TO MY MOMMY), I wouldn’t have been punished. 

    Now, there is no doubt that I fully deserved losing a few chunks of hair1 for being an incorrigible asshole who took great pleasure in running her incorrigible asshole of a mouth, but the girl who whooped my actual asshole apologized to my (now ex) boyfriend a few years ago, and I was fuckin’ indignant. I never expected an apology because I did not deserve one; honestly, had I ran into her somewhere, I would have offered repentance for being a turd. What perplexed me was what warped, sad, gender-inferiority complex she had to be under the influence of to feel obligated to apologize to him… What did she even say? “I’m sorry I had to beat your girlfriend up because she was a bitch, but I am more sorry that you had to get involved because she was a LITTLE bitch?” 

    Dumbass, in her fuckin’ scratchy, noisy-ass parachute pants…

    1I would like to note that prior to this incident, my over-processed-scene-queen locks had been reduced to brittle, delicate straw, and had she stroked my hair in a gesture of physical intimacy, the same amount probably would have broken off between her grubby fingers, and yes, I am undermining her strength over a decade later because I am still a fucking dick.

  • a real life barbie-turate doll

    I have never been able to sleep well and it has only gotten worse now that I am an adult with real problems. The only thing that ever worked to counteract my insomnia has been drinking, primarily hard liquor, and now, I am not only generally exhausted, but also tired of being hungover, the stomach issues, and inherently feeling as if I am a barbarian because I have to get wasted to fall asleep. 

    One week, I decided to cut it out: I had one or two beers before bed, which I consider to be a responsible amount of intake… You see, I did not want to quit drinking; there’s nothing sadder than a reformed drunk, my mother always said (…and probably regrets it, now). 

    Because I cannot win or do anything to better my physical or mental health without repercussions, I still could not sleep: I developed a rash from using fabric softener that made my clothes smell like a fresh spring meadow instead of cigarettes and tacos, so I laid there for hours, itching and fretting over who this boy could be talking to that made for better conversation than myself; after four months of him being the highlight of my days, I was not surprised by his sudden, unexplained absence, but disappointed that I did not plan ahead for his inevitable disappearance; I itched and rolled onto my side, thinking that I should not have allowed vodka and a jackass to be the only thing I looked forward to in life; I itched and rolled onto my back, thinking that I should have gone to college so I did not work such a strenuous job; I itched and rolled onto my other side, thinking that I should start posting naked pictures of myself to bump up my book sales; I itched and rolled onto my stomach, wondering what I had done to deserve not being able to fucking sleep

    When hour four of my itchy-scratchy-pity-party started to creep up, I thought, you know what? If this is what it is to be “normal,” then I will welcome it! I’m fine! Maybe Normal People™ can’t sleep, either, and just lie about it… I’ve always thought they were just clinging to a facade, right? This is why I have Adderall! Normal People™ totally rely on prescription drugs to function, too; that’s why I used to buy them off of weirdos!

     Approaching hour six, I decided that was bullshit — everything was bullshit — and I mistook delirium from exhaustion as having my very first positive mindstate. Repeating a mantra about how I was fine would never be enough to make it true, and if I could not sleep, I decided I would kill myself; lost in a fantasy of eternal rest, I finally passed out and woke up to being called in on my only day off to have a shitty afternoon at work. 

    My coworker asked, “How’s the no-hard-liquor thing going? Feelin’ any better?” 

    He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. 

    “It went.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” 

    His smile started to fade and he put his thumb back down. 

    “It means I left twenty minutes early today to stop and get a bottle of Tito’s because I just might disintegrate if I don’t get any sleep tonight.” 

    My compromise was that I would have some self control, limit my intake; the only reason why I wasn’t able to do so in the past is because I wanted to chug the shit: it helped me sleep, and I just wanted to sleep! Everything would be so much better if I could sleep! I could sleep without downing half the bottle! A shot would knock me out… a nice, heavily poured shot! I would have one a night! That was the plan, that was the cure! 

    ….Alas, as I was unlocking my front door, I dropped the bottle and it shattered down my concrete stairs. I had the worst alcoholic-induced tizzy that my mother has probably witnessed since my father’s final departure from our home in 2006. 

    She heard the commotion and opened the front door to me sitting on a step, picking up broken glass and sobbing. 

    “Fuckin’ Christ, Rose. Don’t touch that with your bare hands. Let me get a broom.”

    “I didn’t even want it. I don’t ever want it. I just can’t fucking sleep and everyday is so bad. I can’t be here anymore if I don’t sleep.” 

    “…Do you need me to go get you another bottle?”

    Ashamed enough, I just cried harder, and as I drove myself to buy a new bottle, I decided that there is something sadder than a reformed drunk: Me. 

    I also decided to give sleeping pills a try, and that’s when funny things started happening to me. 

    (The most hilarious side-effect of sleeping pills is that I actually get rest instead of doing 360 degree turns and scratching myself raw until I deem it an appropriate hour to quit pretending and get out of bed; sometimes, I’d even stretch to make it believable and get a charlie horse because you can’t be a drunk and properly hydrated enough to prevent muscle atrophy… Who would’ve thought?)

    I had a nightmare where a boy rejected me, sparing no harsh criticism and leaving no rickety, dilapidated, pitiful bridge for us to return to each other through later; in real life, we always returned to each other. The cadence, word choice, and sentence structure of his dialogue was so vividly true to character that I confronted him the next day when he tried to spark up a conversation with me (in this reality), as if he hadn’t broken my heart (in an alternate reality that it is frowned upon to acknowledge exists; you look like the person who chats loudly with themselves at the grocery store). Thankfully, he once had a mental episode where he believed he was Jesus Christ reincarnated, and after announcing this revelation in a febrile speech to a decent sized crowd of his adoring fans, was temporarily housed with two psychologists for constant monitoring, and advised against smoking weed for it brings out his “schizophrenic tendencies”… If I was going to make a drug-induced blunder with any man, he was an experienced and understanding candidate. 

    Another night, I ate a full loaf of overdone french bread and woke up with another full-body rash from laying in its scattered, sharp crumbs. I hallucinated that I went downstairs for a glass of water, noticed that someone left my back-door unlocked and the porch light on, went to correct the errors, but I wasn’t fast enough: two masked attackers were taking advantage of our carelessness and vastly approaching with weapons to take my anal virginity. I woke up in a panic, went downstairs to ensure that there were no fatal errors to correct, noticed that someone did leave my back-door unlocked and the porch light on, shrugged, and went back to bed. (I still don’t have an explanation for this one.)  

    Recently, I woke up at around 6am to see a text from a boy — the same one who knows he is Jesus Christ in my eyes and for that, does not have the heart to send me away in this dimension. It read: “AHHH! THE GIRL UNDER HIS BED IS SO SCARY!” 

    …Now, my reading comprehension skills abandoning me at prime, inconvenient moments, as if I do not dedicate hours a day to exercising them, has primely inconvenienced me over the past few years, but with my brain heavy from alcohol and barbiturates, I at least had an excuse for interpreting this text message as, “AHH! THERE IS A SCARY GIRL UNDER MY BED!”; I especially had an excuse for responding with, “GET YOUR GUN AND GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!” and then snuggling back up with my pillow and my puppy to continue my peaceful slumber, hopefully dreaming of me and that boy having nasty enough sex for me to get rugburn on my knees. Who cares if some abominable, possessed, murderous woman killed him in this universe? I was sure-as-shit in a different one! 

    (Plus, I would undeniably shoot my hand over my heart, gasp, and tear up from the supreme flattery of him texting me, out of anybody, while in immediate danger. I would pen a twelve page essay dissecting the potential meaning behind him thinking of me in what could have been his final moments, leading up to the conclusion that I was right all along: He is madly in love with me…  or was, maybe — he claims to have terrible aim with his gun, and what if this intruder was not a demon, but someone highly under the influence of drugs? Bullets don’t always bring them down.) 

    None of this takes away from the inarguable tenet that if this man hits me, his drunk friend who takes sleeping pills and lives on the other side of the country, up during a late-night emergency, he deserves to die for being a goddamn fool. His shrewdness and 1/4th minority blood would keep him alive til about halfway through a horror movie; he’s beautiful, not in the classic way that secures a death sentence for a character, but probably lacks any survival skills… I don’t even think he’s ever gone camping. 

    Anyway, because you can read — and I love that you read, there is no better way to exercise your brain and garner all the power in the world — and I am very thankful that you chose to read me, out of all of the wordsmiths to ever grace a page, you are keeping me alive — you already know that there was no succubus, escaped insane asylum inmate, or someone who was bored enough to give PCP a try hiding under his bed, waiting to strike while he was streaming porn and vulnerable: This motherfucker was just watching the show Hannibal and texting me about it at 6am, 3am for him… 3000 miles away, right? Time difference. You remember. You read. Thanks again. The end. 

  • awful lot: my condolences to teachers

    I am a career server. This was not my intended vocation — I certainly never lulled myself to sleep as a hopeful adolescent with fantasies of taking 15 tables at once or screaming at adult men over unequal salad portions — but I also never had a feasible career in mind. The “future” seemed like something that would never arrive and my parents didn’t pay enough attention to me to force me to set a goal and adhere to it. All I wanted to do was be in a band, but I never even had the drive to learn an instrument, and Slipknot already had a steady member who hits the keg-drum with a baseball bat during “Duality”; I’m terrible at math; science classes consistently felt like watching a movie in a foreign language without subtitles; I pass out at the sight of blood and most body fluids; I lack the artistic eye required to see something and “vision” to be something else, something better; I loved reading, but I never considered writing as anything more than a way to organize my thoughts and calm my nerves. 

    I trudged half-heartedly through college, taking the basic required courses with a shrug, assuming I was heading in the only direction available for someone like me: Teaching English… What else was there to do? I am very vocal about despising the “normal” 9-5 lifestyle, but that is now, not then; though I didn’t feel “normal,” I hadn’t a clue that there was a different kind of normal out there for people like me…. until I stumbled into a job in the restaurant industry. 

    I found my home, man: the debauchery, the stress, the cursing, the heated emotions, and the chaos were addicting to me. I was thriving financially, making “adult” money for the first time in my “adult” life… without a degree, which most of the other full-time employees had. Many even had the exact degree I was slowly working towards, so why were they working there?

    …I doubt I need to explain why. Once I read that the starting salary for English teachers in public school was less than what I made a year as a hostess, I dropped out. I started serving and making twice the amount of money. It’s been five years, and I bought a house and a car and everything I needed; I’m nearing 30; I’m an “adult,” I guess. 

    Restaurants have this magical quality (some could argue “delusion”) that make you feel like you never grew up: drinking, drugs, partying, staying up all night, and sex are rampant and accepted as normal. Everyone I love has a similar lifestyle because if they didn’t, we would drift apart; to some, we’re barbarians, and they’re not far off. My mom loves to bully me about only dating “losers” — line cooks — and I argue back, “Where the fuck would I find someone ‘normal,’ Mom? I don’t go anywhere but work.”

    “I am sure you wait on plenty of good catches a night.”

    Yeah, and they don’t want shit to do with me as soon as they find out that I am not in school to be a dental hygienist: I only do this… and oh, yeah, Rose is a writer, but a quick investigation performed by anyone who isn’t a complete idiot will unfortunately reveal that “writing” is still only a way to organize my thoughts and calm my nerves. Rose is also never available until about 10pm most nights, and Rose is a fucking drunk, so please make certain to work readily-available refreshments into the date we will never have. 

    I lost the crux: I’m a server because being a teacher sounded like a fate worse than death and I didn’t know what else there was to do. I can’t fathom arguing with teenagers that they should read a fucking book, if for no other reason than if they read the fucking book, they will pass the fucking test, only to fail to convince a single one. I have been the only student to raise their hand every time a teacher asked a question because I was the only person in class who read the fucking book, and how frustrated and exhausted and disheartened the teachers were was palpable enough for me to recognize even as a teenager, no less selfish or shitty than the rest of my peers… English was just the only class I enjoyed, and I pitied them, and wanted to put an end to their miserable and hopeless spectacle. I read the books they assigned during my other classes and pissed those teachers off, too. 

    ….Now, I felt this way before the world ended and teachers were thrown into the hellfire to — quite literally — die. Restaurant workers were not spared, either, but I clock in every day with the blind hope that at least a decent amount of the dozens of patrons who breathe on me are vaccinated as I touch countless things they put their mouth on and sometimes have the time to wash my hands after, but children are not eligible for the vaccin. (Welcome to Planet Shit.) I intentionally do not read too far into the discourse surrounding the hellacious catastrophe the government forced our educators to walk into this school year, though not in a way that suggests “La la la! I can’t hear you! Teehee! What? Bad things are happening in the world? Not mine! Who cares!” but La la la: I care, so I’m afraid that if I hear too much, I will want to die. 

    Unfortunately, teachers go out to eat, and eavesdropping is a skill quickly developed by not only all of us so-called “writers,” but bored restaurant employees. Teachers also want relationships, and their “normal” schedules (that I so vehemently oppose) render them capable of going on “normal” dates (such as to a decent restaurant to get dinner and not a seedy bar to drink your dinner) at “normal” hours (7pm: the busy rush for people like me). 

    I ran food to a couple that was obviously a first-date; you can’t ignore the bubbly nervousness, the awkward giggling to fill any potential silence, the meticulous attention-to-detail paid to their every movement… and the refusal to make eye-contact with me as I call out their entrees like we are not all goddamn adults. 

    Ah, whatever, I thought as I dropped their plates and scurried off. You remember what it’s like to be nervous and excited around someone you’re interested in, right? Somewhere in your rotted brain, Rose? And I did! I do! I love love! 

    …Alas, I was standing near that same table when I heard her say, “Well, it’s been… Hectic. Four children in my class have tested positive, but I think they were exposed from their bus-driver, but I don’t know what that means for me…” 

    Oh… Oh, no… What that probably means is that this poor fellow is deeply regretting agreeing to sit a foot away from her in this rather busy restaurant instead of, oh, I don’t know… yelling across an empty field at each other using megaphones on a day where this is no wind, but maybe I am just a dick. Maybe I am just upset that I had to be reminded of how many helpless children are falling extremely ill and our government couldn’t give less of a shit, all because I overheard this depressing first-date discourse between some adult dweeb that ordered a plain cheese pizza and a poor girl who already works one of the most thankless and torturous jobs on the planet and has now taken upon herself the grueling burden of finding someone to love her. 

  • we, as a species, are overwhelmed… by breeders

    To encourage writing more when inspiration strikes, despite whatever state (of inebriation) I may be in at the moment, I have reverted back to jotting quick thoughts down into a notebook. Most are trivial observations: I just gave Mimi a bully stick that was bent at a 90° angle… who hurt him? or the sexy new line cook does not appear to have any outstanding felonies in Richmond or surrounding counties and the five-minute-later-update of well, that may be because I spelled his name wrong, but I don’t feel like doing this fucking shit again tonight!!!!!, but who is to say those won’t turn into an award-winning article? 

    This may seem like a resignation to deevolution considering that I spent $1400 on the world’s fanciest “notebook,” but there’s no great loss if I knock a beer over onto a notebook — it is probably for the best that most of my drunken thoughts are smeared or washed away — and something about putting words on paper reduces the (however uncalled for, but still existent) pressure that accompanies the formal undertones of sitting down in front of a computer with the intention to write not only something, but a piece of quality, and takes me back to when I simply maintained a diary to organize my thoughts. I had no one to please; I wasn’t writing for an audience; truly, I’d be humiliated had even a close friend peeked at one of the pages. 

    (Plus, haven’t I read that most writers keep a notebook on hand at all times? Surely, this is still common with journalists, even during the age of ubiquitous cell phones… Unless everyone else is far more productive and capable and devoid of my particular debilitating habits, which could explain why they are legitimate “journalists” and I still don’t feel comfortable admitting that I’ve risen even a notch above the rank of “person with a diary.”)

    Introduction aside, a recent entry was a complaint, formulated as an inquiry into the void, regarding my Instagram explore page’s perplexing invasion by women whose entire existence is ruled by their (unfortunate to them, I gather) inability to conceive children. 

    The thesis was obvious: What the fuck did they have to do with me? How they hell did they get there? 

    The grid on my page will contain a photo of woman’s “baby bump,” one of a newborn next to a handmade “THE BEST 40K DADDY EVER SPENT” sign, Megan Fox and MGK’s most recent paparazzi shot (ok, that one I did to myself), a woman brandishing ultrasound photos and an enormous smile, a woman brandishing ultrasound photos and a frown and teary eyes, Clown from Slipknot’s newest rendition of his mask (someone help Clown!!!! Pull him away from the hoes!!!!), and a gorgeous selfie from a woman that seems innocuous enough… until I read the essay-length caption about how after six attempts at IVF, they think this might be the winning one, but are trying to remain calm for obvious reasons. 

    I mean, I get it — I can’t get pregnant, either — but that’s due to a crippling laziness and overall disenchantment regarding the process of finding someone to have sex with me, and believe me, that’s for the best: My sister and I both intend to see to it that this (heavily diluted by alcohol) shitty bloodline ends with us. I would rather suffer through a root canal than “explore” that particular layer of social media Hell, and I can only assume that I brought this psychological warfare on myself by occasionally hate-lurking a girl from high school that my ex had a crush on while we were broken up in 11th grade. She’s a total Instagram-lifestyle-mom and recently had a fucked up baby… and I am sorry to her for my acrimony and to her fucked up baby for being born fucked up (he is doing fine, don’t yell at me), but I enjoy gawking at the unfathomable dichotomy between her life and mine: It always leaves me oscillating between feeling relieved by the freedom of my debaucherous existence and like an unsalvageable barbarian who will never know true love. 

    On the bright side, neither of us ended up with my ex. 

    Now, motherhood is a delicate subject that, aside from being a woman, I am severely underqualified for discussing and run an extreme risk of sounding like an insensitive, jaded asshole even commenting on it (when I have already really pushed the limits with that fucked up baby comment), but hear me out: I completely understand why women would want to become mothers. Perhaps they came from generations of big, welcoming families and know no better than to follow in their footsteps, did not grow up in a loving home and wish to rectify their parents’ wrongdoings by bestowing a child with the life they dreamed of, or live comfortably enough to easily ignore that the world is growing more and more unfit for and unfair to humans with each passing day. (Jokes aside about my fear that I will never find a suitable partner to mate with and wouldn’t be able to quit smoking and drinking for nine months even if I did, that’s my personal reason for birth control.) Plus, whether we like it or not, we are also heavily influenced by the inherent desire in all walks of life to reproduce: If that intrinsic need is not why you ended up with six children by the time you were 28, it is at least why you waste hours of the day aimlessly scrolling through dating apps, or (if you’re me), stress yourself out brainstorming ways to tell the new line cook at work that he looks so good in those damn pants… without outright saying that he looks so good in those damn pants. 

    One of the saddest things to witness is someone who doesn’t know when to give up or accept that whatever idea they or plan they made, they were wrong; I deal with it everyday that I clock in at my restaurant job, come home exhausted from speaking all day that I have lost my stomach for words, write nothing, and find no offer for a book deal in my email inbox. I only even ended up in the service industry because all I ever wanted to be was Courtney from the metalcore band Spiritbox, but I can’t sing, and while I have no genuine justification for exactly why I hate lurk the Instagram mom I haven’t seen since graduating ten years ago, it gives me the willies to know that the kind of women who were suddenly teeming my explore page probably gaze at her profile and feel inadequate, dejected, ignored, and overwhelmed by the belief that they must have done something wrong to not have that life, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

    Sometimes you just may have to give up, redirect yourself, admit that something is not meant for you, and search outside the (spirit)box for what your true calling may be. I might never be anything more than a good server who can write a story about a shitty or peculiar customer with decent vocabulary, proper punctuation, and perfectly timed/placed humor, and while that’s a bit disappointing and a bad portent for my knees, that’s ok: I did my best; I have a hobby that I adore. These women have thousands of followers, constant encouragement and reassurement from all sides, and clearly enough money to afford multiple IVF treatments, which are not cheap… so I hope it works out for them, truly; I hope they get everything they so desperately want because it is far better on the psyche than having to accept that you will not — you cannot — for reasons out of your control. 

    (I mostly hope that my Instagram recalibrates or uplifts whatever curse was brought upon my logarithm, because while I may have approached this subject with all the kindness and objectivity that I could muster, my original casual, informal, pressure-free, etc. drunken notebook scribbling was a plan only a cross between an evil genius and incorrigible dumbass could conjure up: I would perform a gonzo-style journalistic investigation, where I pose as a married woman who is having difficulty conceiving (kind of like the girl who recently went undercover as a fascist). After assimilating myself into that…. er, community, for however long it takes to garner thousands of sympathetic and like-minded followers, I will post that I didn’t know that you had to have sex to get pregnant, and so me and my husband gave it a shot, and as it turns out, his jizz is loaded, ladies! His spunk is as overcrowded as Scott’s Addition in Richmond, Virginia or any of these music festivals that keep happening as if the global pandemic has not! Sorry for the confusion! I’m already pregnant! Maybe y’all just need some new men. Best of luck! Xoxo! Also, have any one of you selfish, neurotic fuckers considering adopting one of the gazillion children in this world that no one loves? 

    ….But I just can’t see that working out well for me or my “career” or “reputation.”) 

  • literary masochism: an unintentional dissertation on lizard people

    I was introduced to actress/supermodel/writer Emily Ratajkowski when the photo of her holding her baby like a pile of dirty rags she used to clean up dog piss with went viral. I have no reason to keep up with celebrities; as a 27-year-old restaurant manager who never abandoned her adolescent emo phase, their lives haven’t the slightest relevance to mine, and I gain nothing from staring at beautiful photos of beautiful people who know how to work and please the Internet beautifully, except maybe feeling like I should have taken all the money I spent on my first bottle of Retinol and purchased a handle of whiskey and a 24-pack of sleeping pills, instead… I don’t need that, and considering the current desolate state of the world, I don’t believe anyone needs that, but there are endless available options of escapism, and idolizing gorgeous people is far less pernicious than, y’know, giving heroin an honest try. 

    (This is coming from someone who once got lost for hours on the white rapper Stitches’ Instagram, so please do not feel as if I am suggesting I am better than anyone for preferring to keep my feed full of shitposts instead of Hollywood stars; it’s a preventative measure, honestly. 

    Also, Google “Stitches” at your own risk… I would prefer a group of Black Eyed Children to show up on my front porch, begging to be let in, than that scary ass man.

    Also, I have been beside myself in grief over the untimely demise of the band Every Time I Die, who are my “celebrities,” so I am truly so full of shit that my stench has become unbearable, but I am mentioning this so you don’t because any impromptu reminder that Daddy God took them away carries an enormous risk of me busting out into an unstoppable deluge of tears.

    Now, let’s review a fuckin’ book.) 

    A friend suggested that I read My Body, Emily Ratajkowski’s 2021 collection of personal essays for my next Literary Masochism piece. The book was too new for me to find a used copy, and though Emily is hundreds of thousands of paces behind Ben Shapiro on the list of the famous who deserve the guillotine, I think a local bookstore deserves my $5 more than she does… or maybe I am a writer who apparently hates supporting other writers. Either way, had that same friend not gifted me a copy, this would have been arbitrarily written six years from now, once her fans who purchased it but never cracked it open move into an apartment with no built-in decorative shelving and donate their copy — alongside Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, cookbooks by people from Tiktok whom I am too old to have ever heard of, and Kim Kardashian’s selfie book — to the Goodwill… just like the rest of my reviews. Too much too late.

    The cover is understated but classically eye-catching, with what I assume was obvious intent, considering the subject matter, to not use her highly recognized profile to draw anyone in. I let out an anguished groan upon spotting the back-cover blurb from Lena Dunham, or She-Who-Put-Rocks-Inside-Of-Her-Sister’s-Vagina-As-A-Child-And-Saw-Nothing-Wrong-With-Admitting-That, along with Amy Schumer’s short testimony on the inside flap, fearing that we were already off to a terrible start and an even worse ending, but had I expected everyone’s least favorite deacons of white feminism to not endorse this, then that’s my own folly. 

    The introduction covers how her appearance in the infamous video for Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharell’s 2015 song “Blurred Lines” skyrocketed her career (along with a subsequent surge of female celebrities advocating for feminism). She claimed to initially not understand the outrage regarding the video’s content — “I argued that I felt confident in my body and my nakedness, and who was anyone to tell me that I wasn’t empowered by dancing around naked? In fact, wasn’t it anti-women to try to tell me what to do with my body?” — and I, at a mere three pages in, had to pause, remove my glasses, and rub my temples to quell the germinating headache. 

    I had rewatched both the censored and uncensored version of the video prior to diving into the book, and to say I was “outraged” would be to dull down my reaction; as it has been widely discussed, both the song and video are foul in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with it containing dancing, naked models; she is absolutely correct in defense of her role in the video. HOWEVER, “Blurred Lines” just may be the catchiest anthem of rape culture to have ever been written and blared on every goddamn radio station eighty times a day upon its release, and I wanted to ram my head into a sharp corner of a wall over the scene where Robin Thicke blows cigarette smoke into Elle Evans’ face. As a model, and thus, a literal fucking professional at controlling their facial expressions, she was clearly unable to hide her disgust and discomfort; as a cigarette smoker, that’s fucking foul and degrading. 

    (Fair warning, alongside Googling “Stitches,” please watch the video for “Blurred Lines” at your own risk, both out of the content and the fact that I ended up having that fucking travesty stuck in my head for THREE AGONIZING WEEKS. It’s not worth it.) 

    Alas, I knew from the book’s publicity that she later exposes Robin Thicke for inappropriately and nonconsensually touching her breast during the shoot, so I carried on, aware that the essays are chronicling her journey with feminism throughout her career, so she will redeem herself for defending that hot trash at some point… hopefully. When she mentioned how growing up pretty was difficult as she often found herself in confusing situations, such as when her cousin, who was insecure about her looks (a common side-effect of trauma/abuse that I understand isn’t Emily’s fault, but it sure as hell isn’t theirs, either) was afraid to leave Emily alone with her boyfriend, and how once she began modeling, she realized her body/looks were “a commodifiable asset, something the world valued,” my confidence — not in my looks, but in how much I would enjoy and relate to this book — dwindled further… and after finishing it, I am having a hard time deciphering who genuinely can/would.  

    She claims that when she was a child, she used to “pray for beauty.” While this had me wondering if not doing the same is where I fucked up, somehow setting my mother on the wrong path to where she couldn’t afford for me to get braces, I don’t think I am ugly; when I wait tables, I know that if I put on a full face of makeup, brush my hair, and squeeze into a tight, revealing dress, I will get good tips, thus, exploiting/making a career out of my looks in a similar way… but I do not look like Emily Ratajkowski. The world is filled with beautiful people, each with something unique to offer, but about 97% of the population do not look like Emily Ratajkowski. Whether it be suffering through hilariously awkward, gawky pre-pubescent years or crippling insecurities that linger into adulthood as a result of hatred from others or disillusionment encouraged by the media, most of us did not grow up knowing we were beautiful like Emily Ratajkowski did. 

    (One of the only things that I genuinely related to was her interspersing how her mother constantly reminded her that she is beautiful and placing profound importance on receiving validation from men, as if that is the only thing she should strive for, while inconspicuously comparing herself to/pitting herself against her own daughter. That doesn’t pertain to me in the slightest; my mother, who thinks I am the World’s Most Beautiful Swan™ as mothers are wont to do, has long since accepted that I am far too mean and foul to ever receive an offer to be a trophy wife, and her typical response to any of my love interests/romantic affairs is some variant of “the goddamn hell do you need another one for? They’re all worthless!” 

    What I can sympathize with is how, whether intentional or not, she just popped those memories in there without addressing how they may have distorted her perception of herself or damaged her in other pernicious ways… That is insidious abuse that I, and surely plenty of others, have experienced, but she loves her mom and doesn’t want to speak out against her.

    Plus, y’all know me: I love writing about problems without addressing the fact that they are problems or doing anything to fix them at all! I wrote two whole books of that evasive shit!) 

    Because most of us are also not famous nor supermodels and thus, not privy to the tribulations of that industry, I found her recollections of abuse by men (and women, unfortunately) with power and pull in that universe to be both fascinating and infuriating. It served as proof (as if we needed any more) that if you give a man a muffin, he will gladly strip himself of what it is to be a “man” until he is his most primitive form — a fucking viciously disgusting, prurient, degrading pig — under the false belief that it is the opposite, that he has undergone an apotheosis and is now his most venerable self and surely, above you, woman, and he commands respect. In “Buying Myself Back,” the essay chronicling her ceaseless legal battle with a heinous photographer who not only sexually abused her after feeding her copious amounts of alcohol, but proceeded to exploit the photographs for money for years and speaking about her/on her behalf despite spending approximately twelve hazy hours with her, his recollected commentary alone was enough to make me want to buy however much cocaine I would need to build a guillotine in about six hours. Some examples:

    “You know, I thought you would be bigger. A big girl. […] You know, big-boned. Fat.”

    “This one is so good because of your nipples. Your nipples change so much from hard to soft. But I like them when they are gigantic. […] I love when they’re giant. Giant and exaggerated.” 

    …And lest not forget the first thing he said to her upon stripping and beginning their nude shoot: “iCarly,” referencing the Nickelodeon show she made a brief cameo on… as a fucking adolescent. 

    A peculiar trend that did nothing to redeem the disjoint permeating from every one of her essays is that each member of the rich/elite/famous social circle mentioned, with the exception of her husband and at times, Emily herself, all seem like absolute fucking reptiles… lizard people… NON-HUMAN ENTITIES. In “BC Hello Halle Berry,” an essay about how her husband argued with her that While Yes, Capitalism Bad, We Are On A Paid Vacation At A Resort We Would Never Otherwise Be Able To Afford Because You Are Sexy And They Want You To Advertise It On Instagram And Also Using This As An Opportunity To Take Pictures For Your Bikini Line Is, In Fact, CAPITALISM, BABY, YOU ARE A CAPITALIST, thus upsetting Emily in between her making sure her most recent Instagram post garners the expected 923423535235252875001257013573589539523582352 likes. 

    Instead of making the slightest effort to rectify the abomination that was the first half of the essay, Emily explains how and why she relates to Halle Berry. Now, before I proceed, think for a minute… Do you relate to Halle Berry? I don’t think I do, but I never followed her career much.

    Emily, while wading in the gorgeous surf on the private beach of the resort reserved for gazillionaires (and the occasional charity-case supermodel from Instagram and their elusive “producer” husbands), probably at the exact moment the lighting reached golden hour, for whatever reason “adjusted [her] bikini bottom to wedge it further up [her] ass,” and… for whatever reason… pondered Halle Berry. She reflected on how the actress won an Oscar, not for her role as a bombshell Bond girl, but for “making herself ugly” in Monster’s Ball

    Though I intrinsically knew the answer, out of journalistic integrity, I searched for stills of Halle Berry from that film to confirm that there was nothing “ugly” about her character: It is her without glamorous makeup or luxury clothing, which is still stunningly beautiful, because she is Halle Fuckin’ Berry. Aside from being a standard of perfection for looks, she is a talented actress, and that is how she snagged her Oscar; while I could argue that it ain’t all that deep, Emily, with a heavy heart following this realization, feels inclined to pull her bikini bottom out of her crack… It’s been a hard day in paradise for our humble, beautiful, Capitalist narrator, but alas, she is wrenched from the peak of despair that I always thought pretty people with lots of money were spared from ever reaching by recalling how a friend had recently sent her this quote from Ms. Berry: “My looks haven’t spared me one hardship”; it made Emily’s friend think of her, they said. 

    I initially felt a bit betrayed that my friends send me artistic Christmas-themed renditions of The Human Centipede, appropriately titled The Human Santapede, and memes that read “LIFE DIDN’T GIVE ME LEMONS, IT GAVE ME PANTS AND I’VE SHIT THEM,” instead of uplifting quotes about how lovely I am, but again, I am not Emily Ratajkowski, nor Halle Berry, but I… I don’t get it. I don’t get about 90% of this book. 

    I don’t get how people like the actress mentioned on the following page can say something like “I mean, you’re lucky, with your whole political thing, being outspoken and supporting Bernie, all that stuff, I think people take you more seriously,” with full earnesty and no reservations about sounding like an iguana in a designer turtleneck sweater without a brain and thus, the ability to rationalize, logically deduce anything at all, or empathize with their fellow kind. 

    I don’t get what the point of the following essay about her routine trips to the Korean spa was, besides disclosing that she, like many famous whities have taken to admitting, is bad at personal hygiene, but still gets hit on without her makeup on. 

    I don’t get how any of the filthy rich, abominable, drug-addled reptilian men that paid for her company in the next essay can manage to exist, to breath and function as if they are alive, despite being entirely dead and devoid on the inside, and I wish I didn’t get why she failed to acknowledge that when you are poor, partaking in the same business carries a tremendous risk of being FUCKING MURDERED because you are not a gorgeous supermodel that someone imbecile paid $20,000 to spend an evening with, but instead, disparaged by many who regard you as a lower-life form, invaluable in the worst way, but we all know why: because she doesn’t get it. Why would she?

    I don’t get what the point was of the first half of the essay about her husband being late to take her out to some industry party (that she regretted going to because she was treated like a decorative plant), but they had sex about it, so it was ok! Everything was fine! (Even though she included the redundant detail that she wore red lipgloss and there is no feasible way that one can makeout/fuck wearing any substantial amount of makeup, let alone RED LIPGLOSS, and be presentable after; the b-side to “Partition” by Beyoncé is that they went home… Another set of evening plans despoiled by horniness.) 

    Reading this was far less an act of Literary Masochism than most I have reviewed for this series, and as someone who went to English-teacher-school, I confidently state that if Emily ever scored less than a 100 on any graded paper, it was probably because of a citation era or some other trivial bullshit, but does that make her a good author, writer? No. While many of her stories/experiences in the modeling/entertainment industry were eye-opening, fascinating, and often harrowing, her words lacked flair, humor, and a distinct voice; her recollections were presented with the bland objectivity of a local news report/article. Having an intriguing story doesn’t automatically render you the ideal one to tell it; Dave Eggers is an author who takes others’ tales and spins them extremely well. (Check out The Monk of Mokha, What is the What, Zeitoun; A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius is a perfect memoir.) 

    …I don’t know who this book was for, besides Emily Ratajkowski herself; I don’t know who would get it, but you’re welcome to give it a shot. 

  • literary masochism: why you don’t buy things that went viral on Tumblr in 2011

    I recall stumbling upon a photo of the opening page of Diary Of An Oxygen Thief on Tumblr or Facebook sometime during high school. I skimmed through hundreds of comments about the author’s confessional, sociopathic, self-aggrandizing rant describing how treating women like shit was his favorite hobby, all saying variations of: “Wow… This is terrifying to read… Horrible… Terrible… Is this a true story? Scary…” 

    (I wish I had paid more attention at the time; after having suffered through reading it [twice], I think those may have been reviews of the book as a whole instead of reactions to the narrator boasting, “…I think I killed a few of them [girls]. Their souls, I mean. It was their souls I was after,” because it… sucked.) 

    I spotted a copy at a used book-store last year, to which I thought, shit, let’s see what all the fuss was about… and proceeded to narrow my eyes when the bitch rang up as $7, but I was unemployed, so at least your tax money paid for this piece of crap. 

    The author is listed as anonymous, which was the only wise decision made in the entire creation and publication process. There isn’t a single character in this book with a redeeming quality; the narrator is supposed to be a recovering alcoholic male in his mid 30s, and whether the situations documented in the book actually happened or were just a product of a warped imagination, they make themselves out to be INSUFFERABLE. I have to live with the aftermath of publishing a book about my own vagina under my real name, which has truly come to hinder me in the job and husband market (big surprise), but I would turn into Tom Hanks in Castaway in my own home until eventually dousing myself in a bottle of 151 and smoking the last, best cigarette of my life, had I written and attached my name to this. I think I would even lose my friends, and they’re notorious at humoring me when I should be put in time out (or rehab). 

    While I have the displeasure of knowing (and dating) many men in their mid 30s who are completely oblivious to their petulance and severe need of professional mental help, DOAOT’s amateur unreliability of the narrator, pages upon pages of impertent scenes/stories/ramblings, and dialogue that is awkward enough to suggest the author has never actually engaged in an actual conversation — let alone a relationship or coitus — with the opposite sex, are all reminiscent of the “Most Read” section of fanfiction on Wattpad, and most of those are written by teenagers… Thus, the intentional ambiguity of the author does nothing to dismiss my speculation that this was actually written by an adolescent (of any gender) who unfortunately took a liking to Charles Bukowski and had recently seen (not read) American Psycho

    The author’s refusal to use any punctuation besides a hard-stop period and pitiful renditions of Bukowski’s reveries of spending days at his favorite bars from open-to-close are dead giveaways of his influence; I have always been apologetic for my high opinion on Bukowski, but now, I am more sorry that he birthed writers like this… Try to remember whatever work of his that you read and were first appalled by, and then imagine it being unfathomably worse, in every way possible: that’s Diary Of An Oxygen Thief

    The book is broken up into three chapters/parts. The first chronicles the author’s years of alcoholism and all the women he brags about sucking the soul out of by fucking once and not calling back later, with maybe a few insults thrown at them on his way out the door, all recounted with the insistence that these offenses were not just the average behavior of an emotionally unavailable, severe alcoholic, but elaborate, meticulously organized acts of douchebaggery performed by a wily, master “soul furnace.” (Yes, he called himself a “soul furnace,” which could easily be the name of some local dads’ buttrock cover band, whom you would probably garner far more pleasure out of seeing play in their garage than reading this book.) 

    I am fairly certain that the author Googled “sociopathic behavior in relationships,” pilfered some stories from the comment section, tweaked them a bit, and slapped them in this. Here are a few of the worst sentences imaginable, written by someone doing well to make themselves out to be the worst person imaginable, from this chapter: 

    “Somehow I was able to lure these creatures into my lair.” (Seriously: Would someone who has had actual sex before say this? Most of us have all been on the Internet for nearly two decades… Think about it… ) 

    “…I miss hurting. I’m not cured of it, but I don’t set out to systematically dismantle like I used to.” (Me, just last night, with a heavy heart, paying full price for avocados at the self-checkout after almost getting caught by the attendant ringing up them, an eyebrow pencil, and a pack of ham as bananas, the cheapest produce…) 

    “I did it to get even. Unkind to womankind. That was my mission. Around this time, I discovered the meaning of the word ‘misogynist.’ I remember thinking it hilarious that it had ‘Miss’ as a prefix.” (We are only at page 6 out of 151, friends… I accept tips for my heroic service via Venmo…) 

    [after agreeing to walk a hookup’s child to school the next day] “…I got the feeling that mother and daughter made full use of the men that passed through their lives. Like the Native American and the Buffalo, The Eskimo and Seal, The Welfare Mother and Me.” (Page seven, now, and I will note that the capitalization errors were not made by me, and it doesn’t get better, either — only variations of worse.) 

    Alas, we are introduced to Penelope, his girlfriend of four and a half years — “the one who started it all,” though the story of their breakup does little to adduce how Penelope turned him into a piece of shit. He wanted to dump her because she was apparently shitty in bed and getting in the way of his drinking… To be honest, I’ve been there, but there’s significantly less sinister or dramatic ways of extricating yourself from those kinds of relationships, and I wouldn’t be caught dead lying my ass off afterwards in some dramatic, poorly-punctuated side-note like this: “Pen, I’m so sorry. I needed to hurt you. I knew we were coming to an end. You tried to hide how you felt, but it ripped across your face. Disgust. I began to hate you for not having the courage to tell me what you really thought of me. So I had to make up your mind for you,ESPECIALLY about someone who was terrible in bed. This is one of many examples of the amateur unreliability of the narrator, and I don’t quite understand what the point was in sprinkling in brief moments of (alleged) “heartfelt honesty” into a memoir about how you are a piece of shit, a “soul furnace,” an “oxygen thief”; as the story progresses, this change of tone/intent often occurs multiple times in a single paragraph. 

    He invites Penelope to a bar to execute his totally brilliant plan of “dismantling four years,” which consisted of him pelting her with petty insults that any 13-year-old boy would think were scathing and teeming with wit, such as that her vagina is “baggy and overused” and her “tits hang too low.” Penelope just kind of sat there, which he took as a sign that he was FUCKING ANNIHILATING HER… JUST SUCKING HER SOUL, MAN… SHE WAS SOBBING INSIDE… 

    “She must have sensed mercy in the air. She sensed wrong.” Aside from that being really funny and a stupid thing to say, he pretty much tells her to go find someone else and to make sure she “takes revenge on him.” Penelope, a normal person in their mid 20s who has probably long had it with this moron using theatrics to cover up that he is actually just a fucking moron, goes and finds a man who doesn’t waste so much energy trying to mimic Patrick Bateman, and leaves him alone. Still, he insists on blaming her for when he was later hit by a car after leaving a bar: “I fantasized that she would turn up in a nurse’s uniform any second and administer a long, slow luxurious hand job… but only after she’d help me take a long, slow, luxurious piss.” More typos, while I am all the more certain that Penelope was probably sitting on her couch, catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, looking up kale recipes and like, truly, seriously, forreal, 100%, not giving a slightest goddamn fuck what that idiot was up to. 

    With Penelope out of the way, the second chapter brings us to the height of his reign of terror (and I don’t mean in writing this book, because the height would mean that we are nearing the end and we sadly have almost 130 more pages of bullshit). He meets a virgin, whom — though I hate to say it — got exactly what she deserved for telling him that he had an “enviable command of the English language”; without a doubt, that flattering lie paid a part in encouraging him to write this… As women, we must collectively cease lying our ass off when we compliment men; that is quite possibly the only time they will actually listen to us and apply what we are saying to their life, and before you know it, they’ve created some embarrassing abomination and were rude enough to immortalize you in it as someone who grossed him out because you swallowed his nut (what man has ever said that?) but still ate you out for hours after (which we know did not happen; he ate you out for maybe ten minutes, max, but defending yourself by calling out this discrepancy would mean admitting that you ever associated with this fucking imbecile, so you lose automatically). 

    In between stories of ghosting other women, the author arbitrarily sprinkles in stories of childhood abuse, only to say, “Maybe this stuff has links to other stuff that happened later. Maybe not,” which just SCREAMS fanfiction… [The totally dreamy vocalist of the local band just happens to stand by the narrator in the crowd and says something like “I like your shirt”; they engage in a lengthy, two-chapter-long conversation about their adoration for the headlining band, interrupted sometime in the middle by the Dreamboat Singer asking, “What is that scar on your arm from?”; the narrator lowers her eyes and looks around nervously before mumbling, “Oh, my mom branded me with a hot iron when I was 4-years-old because she told me I was a worthless cow;” Heartthrob Screamo/One Direction/Harry-Potter-character-turned-rockstar  Man nods and says something dramatically ominous but still vague enough to suggest that he, too, has trauma regarding farm animals; the conversation careens to their preferred sauces for chicken nuggets; by the time the headliner plays their encore, they are inseparable and in love for all of eternity.]

    Anyway, our Oxygen Thief apparently invited all his scorned hoes to a roast of a whole pig or quinceanera or sex-toy party for widows or something with “the idea [was] to create a sort of lasagna of pain”. (Meanwhile, this and Lil Wayne’s iconic bar “real g’s move in silence like lasagna” probably reign supreme as the two worst cultural references to what is otherwise a delicious and filling icon of Italian foods.) His plan doesn’t work out; he’s too drunk; drunk enough to finally get sober, which brings us to the middle of the book: Minnesota. 

    Because he is a total genius and alcohol only made him use his exuberant, unnatural high level of intelligence for inconveniencing women and abusing the Shift key for Inconsistent punctuation In his brilliantly Executed memoir, sobriety freed up enough of his time for him to land himself a $300k a year gig in the advertising field… NATURALLY. His firm moves him to Minnesota. Now, when you think of Minnesota, what is the first thing that pops into your head?

    Cold: It’s goddamn cold. When reading something written about Minnesota, you assume they will not mention such a redundant fact and elaborate on… I don’t know… what else Minnesota has to offer besides frostbite. Alas, the following 30+ pages in Diary Of An Oxygen Thief are nothing but shinfo about how Minnesota is fucking freezing, he hates his extremely well-paying job, he can’t find anyone to buy his mansion so he can leave, and his various masturbation techniques now that he is sober and abstinent — in retirement from being a “soul furnace,” if you will. 

    Much like with the strewn-in bits of him experiencing genuine emotions like a real person, I cannot decipher why this section was included instead of viciously X’d through by an editor in a red permanent marker (that bleeds) for any other reasons besides meeting a word-count/page quota. It is boring — it is terrible — I don’t think any reader gave much of a shit about anything else in this book, but I can assure you that they especially didn’t give a shit about this — and all he does is whine, whine, whine. In fact, this whole book is a mentally ill man whining…. I should consider lending it to one of the many I know and see if they can find any joy in it, because bitch, it was lost on me; I had a better time reading Sarah Palin’s diatribes about local Alaskan politics. 

    The only segment of any pertinence is when the narrator attends an AA meeting and receives an ominous warning from a girl who he “thought was just a rich girl who had overdone the coke and was in AA to keep her rich husband happy” and that it was a “pity she’s so fucked up because she’s very tasty” about how a friend of hers — ironically from his same obscure hometown — was a vicious maneater and had her sights set on him. This girl is the whole point of this book; she was his Lolita, his “punishment,” his “karma,” but by the beginning of the third part, it is obvious that she is no more shitty than him: He simply met his match. 

    Now, imagine a romantic rendezvous — or even a fucking casual conversation — between the worst two people you can think of, and we have the remaining 70 pages of this shithole: You can continue reading, or you can click “play” on the episode of the Joe Rogan Experience where Elon Musk was a guest instead and get the same headache. Sadly, I continued on, though there is no revelation, no retribution, no breakthrough; this book — which really sucks — continues to suck. 

    He, of course, meets the girl he was warned about. She is an artiste, a photographer from an extremely wealthy family, which is the exact type of person the narrator is enough of a fucking stupid narcisstic idiot to “fall for,” so he claims, though the previous ~100+ pages clearly reveal that he is devoid of feeling any palpable emotion and entirely incapable of experiencing any resemblance of “love.” He even claimed — after going on only one real “date” with her, hours of which were spent with his face buried in her pussy (excuse me: he called it her “womanhood,” as any fanfiction virtuoso would), and “no more than four phone calls” — that he was so in love and being so toyed with by her that he wished he could “torture and kill her without going to prison.” 

    Yes: That’s genuine, healthy love, developed over a week of spotty interactions. Every compliment he pays to her throughout the book is a mere compliment to his past self: his “soul furnace” days, reincarnated and lurking in the present as this asshole girl. 

    I cannot dismiss that the only reason why he is so enamored with her is because she — as he repeats constantly — looks like a teenage girl, and I am long past the point where any further detail to confirm that this man deserves to be castrated surprises me: “Suddenly, I was looking at this sweet teenage innocent like she was a cum-soaked whore. And I liked it.” As someone who tends to fall into hopeless love simply to prolong my own unnecessary suffering, I can tell you that not a single one of their interactions should have prompted this infatuation (again, imagine the two worst people you know hanging out), and random comments are added through this reflection to make you hate him more, such as: a fear of catching AIDS from a toilet seat, a shitty dismissal of restaurant hostesses, a rant about how women love nothing but money, his disgust at her actually possessing talent as a photographer, more countless notes on how young she looked even though we do eventually get a confirmation that she was 27, not 16, as he had probably hoped, all the while she simply treats him the same way he treated other women. It is as if she also Googled “sociopathic behavior in relationships” and said, “Cool. That sounds good. I’ll act like that.” He defended his own past behavior by saying it was “no more than spiritual vandalism. This is professional,” because using a photo of him, taken seconds after she rejected him, in her art exhibit is just… hellacious…. unbearable… and yet, that is his karma? That is her revenge? He met a girl who didn’t like him back, though whether he ever even “liked” or “loved” her at all is aleatory… In fact, on page 121, he finally summarizes the plot of the final half objectively: “Guy turns up in New York, expecting her to drop everything for him just because it suited him to leave Saint Lacroix [Minnesota]. A guy she was only lukewarm about to begin with. Now he was acting all hurt because he didn’t want to have sex with him. I could see that.” 

    But he only sees it for that one paragraph. He witnessed a mirror of himself and learned nothing; there is no justification in this story; no character is ever redeemed. As a reader, it wasn’t gratifying to see her treat him as he had treated countless women: No change in his character came from it, and it upset him enough to write this shitty fucking awful book:“I think you can agree our antics were worth recording” page 111 reads, but no one agrees. 

    Forty more goddamn nauseating pages later, and this seemingly neverending fanfiction is finally concluded with a smug paragraph about how he is already working on his next book and the screenplay for this one because people care, so fucking much… “Congratulate me,” the last line says.

    Congratulate me, fucker: I read this horseshit TWICE

    FINAL LITERARY MASOCHISM RATING: I genuinely found True Allegiance by Ben Shapiro to be less infuriating of a read than this. This sucked. 

  • jealousy is a disease and i don’t have health insurance

    I am very mad about the writer who got famous from a Harry Styles fanfiction where she portrayed him as an incorrigible abuser who deserved to be made into a eunuch, not cherished or even lusted after. Here is the brief description of the upcoming MOVIE based off this fanfiction, because not only did its popularity lead to a BOOK DEAL for a series of EROTICA NOVELS (my dream!), but that fuckin’ hefty chunk of Hollywood change, too. Was she asked to write the script? I am sure she was asked to write the script, but I can’t bring myself to seek confirmation; the pain is too much already. 

    “His past haunts him and the future terrifies him. He’s not perfect, but he is perfectly imperfect and he tries like hell, which is the most any of us can do. Hardin Allen Scott changed my life. I’m thankful for the boy with the tattoos that creeped into my head seven years ago and hasn’t left since.”

    I hate this! I hate that! I hate her! That should be me! I live a fucking fanfiction! I am Helena, Alyxandria, Syn, Salem, the girl whose life changed forever after one unforgettable night at a rock show, the dreamy band guy’s best friend since childhood with some totally cool job like a tattoo artist who he, by chapter eight, realizes was the one for him all along! One false move from that boy and I will exploit him so fast for a couple extra book sales that he won’t have the time to pretend like he’s surprised! 

    (Forever shameless, I’ll never apologize; I will go so far as to comment that I see no need to. I will cash every check I made off his fans with a wide, shit-eating grin because I could finally afford new teeth. 

    “What made you decide to reveal the true identity of the mystery man you’re always alluding to in your writing?” my fourth interviewer of the day will ask from a well-decorated, staged sitting room in their 37th-floor NYC office, but with better phrasing of the question because I dropped out of journalism school long before we learned how to pose inquiries, but if they’re interviewing me, it’s a possibility that they did, too….

    “Years of profound disappointment,” I’ll answer, my face revealing nothing, no influx in my tone.)

    Tired of waking up everyday to no movie proposals from Netflix executives in my email inbox, I have been submitting my pieces to literary magazines and the process is growing a bit dismal. I have yet to hear back from any of them, but a waiting period of a couple months is to be expected. 

    “This all sucks,” I told the same goddamn stupid mystery man that I am always alluding to in my writing. “Every part of writing sucks except for… writing.”

    I like to talk to him about my craft because it makes me sound serious, committed, dedicated, passionate, blahblahblah, which I am, but I feel as if I have to reiterate it for him to believe me. I am under false pressure to prove to him that the hours I spend hunched over my laptop are not wasted shopping on Wayfair for cabinets (of kidnapped children to print off my essays for me because I’m lazy and my printer is demonically possessed): I’m writing, working, I swear! It’s not like I even need him to care much about my “career”; my boyfriend, who I discarded a week ago, was far more involved, and he is probably spending this very moment forcing himself to think bad things about me to expedite the necessary hatred required for moving on in his life…  “Hope she’s having a great fucking time talking to that fucking chump who doesn’t give a shit about her,” he’s probably grumbling, and he’s right: I am! It’s surely more fun than browsing literary magazines!

    “What don’t you like about it?” mystery jackass asked to be polite. (He’s learning after I have incessantly chastised him for only actively participating in conversations about the gripes of his own creative processes. How are you today? Oh, I’m fine, how’re you? always works as a simple, standard, polite greeting that I thought we all adopted early on, but I was wrong.) 

    “Every time I find one that says it only accepts GRITTY, RAW, FRESH, ORIGINAL, NO-FLUFF BULLSHIT, and I go yes, that’s me, baby! Then, I read their most recent issue, and it’s all the same story that I’ve read 400 times before about someone’s last car ride with their father before he went to get out to cigarettes and never came back in 1995. It always ends with them receiving a confessional and apologetic letter from him in the mail 20 years later, as if one receives letters from their long-lost deadbeat dads… They get Facebook messages, duh…. Anyway, my point is that I feel like I don’t fit in. Writers are all so pretentious and I don’t take myself that seriously.”

    “If we’re being honest, every artist should take themselves seriously. I think that’s one of the biggest keys to success.” 

    Oh, fuck, I thought: I accidentally allowed him to think he’s uncovered the reason why my Amazon royalty checks for two-month periods are never above $20 and I have 1/16th of the Instagram following as the last model he’s fucked. This was a mistake.

    “Hold on, I think I used the wrong phrasing. I do take myself seriously. I know I am good at what I do, but most of my writing is comedic because I don’t take life that seriously. Everything is funny to me. I don’t give a fuck about the kind of things that these people write about.” 

    “Well, find some magazines that cater to your style!” You’re depressed? Well, have you tried cheering up?

    “That’s what I am doing, idiot.” I just have to read the same story about that fucking car ride that despoiled someone’s ability to love unconditionally as an adult because of a residual fear of abandonment from adolescence over and over again until I find one, and if that special one accepts me, I will throw my writing out left and right like it’s a PETA pamphlet at Warped Tour! I will spread it like herpes! If someone makes room for me, welcoming me into this messy and overcrowded world of words, I will invade everyone else’s personal space with a total disregard to how they feel about assholes like me for the rest of my life! Give me an inch and I will grab that mile from your hands! Your house resides on that mile? Better get a plunger because I shit a lot and some Drano because I shed even more and I’M FUCKIN’ MOVIN’ IN, BABY!

     ….Until then, I am stuck in limbo, writing bullshit like this out of obligation and necessity to silence the chiding voices in my head on what is supposed to be my “day off” from research, editing, and submitting… That’s a fucking joke, they snarl: You don’t have a job

    See, wasting time’s ok when you have nothing to do; it feels light, casual, like something that’s supposed to be relaxing, but I have never once felt like I had nothing to do, and slamming my laptop shut did nothing to silence my internal team of micromanagers, so I set out to Barnes & Noble to pick up some literary magazines and get a grasp on what content they deem worthy (and probably end up tossing them out my car window once I’ve emptied my repository of sardonic comments and start repeating the same three that weren’t funny the first time). 

    They only had four available, but 2001 was probably a better year for the magazine racks and people like me who prefer hard copies. I walked out with the newest issue of one of the more prestigious feminist mags, figuring it was as good of a start as any because women, in any field, are always grouped with, and pitted against, other women: these are my comrades, my “coworkers.”

    This month’s content theme was “hair.” Those who have endured the most regarding that subject, and any subject — take a gander around at this shithole of a society — are women of color, so they were the majority of contributors. Well, shit, I thought: This isn’t my playing field and I’d be a dick to brutalize their particular style when sharing traumatic experiences that I did nothing to earn exemption from; no one gives a fuck about my hair because no one should give a fuck about my hair. 

    If I had seen this particular submission call, I would’ve probably dug through my pile of stories to see if I have one about a drummer blowing their load in my hair and their dried cum flakes falling onto directly into my table’s dinner at work the next day; coming up empty, I would consider quickly penning about the one time I had sex on my couch and found a full nug of weed tangled in a knot later in the shower, dried it out on my windowsill, and smoked it the next day… All the while these women spent their whole life being ridiculed by girls who look like me until they gave themselves chemical burns to hopefully receive the peace and quiet of their classmates’ validation. They had real shit to write about. 

    (I should have picked up a magazine that only publishes white male college students. I would’ve either had a ball with a bright red correction pen, guilt-free, or blown my brains out.)

    You know what, though? The ladies that filled those pages had some fantastic voices; each had a compelling story to tell, and they told it well. Most were professionals with impressive credentials: experts, historians, professors, published authors. (One woman who was interviewed spent ten years researching and writing her book and every publisher she sent it to jumped at making her an offer, while I once asked my male followers on Instagram to give me an estimated spit-to-swallow ratio out of all the blowjobs they’ve received and only three responded. I tip my hat to her; she earned that bidding war.)

    I hated the poems, but only because I hate poetry, having long ago dismissed it as garbage, metaphorical bullshit. I don’t want to have to spend hours contemplating what you meant behind your vague, hip, six word art that’s in the shape of an “X”; I have ADHD and your formatting gives me a headache. I would unintentionally snarl at someone who writes poetry if I were to meet them at a cocktail party that I should have thanked my lucky stars I was invited to and taken full advantage of the networking opportunities; if they were a man, I would snarl, roll my eyes, and walk away in the middle of the conversation. I would leave looking like a dick and my email would be removed from the automated list about weekly events, and I’d shrug when my agent asks me if I have a clue as to why this was so…. Did you do anything I should know about, Rose? Forget to tell me something, maybe? 

    “Well, we were only supposed to have two free drinks and I had six. I was sly about it, though, and I ate four ham biscuits before driving home.” 

    But I don’t even have an agent. 

    My only gripe was a personal essay written by a girl a few years younger than myself. The story itself was a well-organized chronicle with the pathos applied just where it needed to be. Now, I have leniency towards young writers because I am a young writer and I suck, and the only way to improve is to practice, but I have a zero tolerance policy for unnecessary descriptors, and I spotted three violations in just the first paragraph. 

    She was five when this story took place — that was established within the first few lines. Why, then, did we have to be reminded that her hands were “little,” her neck “tiny,” her legs “small”? Was it to reiterate what a shame it was that a girl that young was bullied until she begged her mother to let her get a relaxing treatment done to her hair? The strategy makes sense, but you already mentioned that you were only five; five-year-olds are small children; tormenting anyone, let alone a small child, over such blatantly racist bullshit is intolerable behavior. 

    A sharp inhale revealed the stench of her scrambling to fill a word count quota, but one story in my most recent book is dialogue only, no filler, barely any scene setting, and based off an argument I had with a boy who accused me of talking too much about shit — and I don’t mean shit as a pronoun, but turds, poo, dookie, the real deal — so don’t listen to me because I’d never get into this magazine unless the editors are flies, though I am sure if I checked their archives, I will find an issue where every writer depicted themselves as far more formidable insects (with 90% of the submissions being a fucking praying mantis), but that’s still cooler than what that heinous woman did to Harry Styles. 

    (…I’ll never get over it, obviously; jealousy is a disease, and I don’t have health insurance.) 

  • give my love to buffalo

    Every Time I Die’s new album Radical was finally released on October 22nd after a year-long delay, and at least five different people of whom my (fleeting) presence left with a vile taste in their mouth — something like if you drank only cheap rum for 12 hours and then licked the dirty and crusty foot of a stranger and proceeded to chain-smoked three Marlboro 27s before immediately having your beloved partner tell you they never really liked you at all… not even a little bit at the beginning… — probably stumbled upon the news, groaned, and muttered “oh, lovely… I bet Rose Damian is fucking thrilled,” and they are right: I am so goddamn alive with the glory of nasty fucking RIFFS that I could run directly through a brick wall, but I’m not going to because I would inevitably hurt myself and that would make them happy when this is my special week!

    This isn’t a “review” because I don’t know a goddamn thing about music and I am unapologetically biased… We all know that I fucking love Every Time I Die. I found them late in their career: While on tour in winter of 2015, vocalist Keith Buckley’s then-wife experienced life-threatening complications during her pregnancy that led to their daughter being born severely premature; instead of cancelling the tour, Jason Butler (Letlive., The Fever 333, Pressure Cracks) filled in for him. Letlive. were my favorite band at the time, so I watched a couple videos from these shows, and thought, “Damn… This is nice. I wonder if they’re just as good without him?” and thus (through incredibly grim circumstances that I would never admit had things not worked out for Keith and his family), I had the glorious experience of enjoying their entire catalogue for the very first time, and it’s an impressive one. ETID possesses some sort of magic lacking in many artists: They have never once regressed. Through subtle nuances, each album released is consistently better than the last, without diminishing the quality of the previous ones or ever not sounding like them. (I would be able to explain it better if I had the slightest goddamn clue how they do it; “magic” is my best guess.) 

    Turning 21 commenced a rough time for me, and finding them is one of the best things that’s ever happened to my mental health. A therapist would probably argue that I rely on them to childishly avoid confronting the myriad shitty parts of life, but their music and wonderful community of fans are probably the only thing that has ever made me feel better that isn’t going to destroy my lungs or my liver, so I think I am ok. I hope everyone finds something that brings them as much joy as Every Time I Die does for me, because after the past few years we’ve had, we all deserve it. 

    When Low Teens came out in 2016, I gave myself an hour before work to drive around and listen to it… and spent the entire hour with “Fear And Trembling” on repeat. It’s only been a week, and this album has sixteen goddamn songs, and I still go “WOOOOOOOO SHIT!!!!! THAT’S A BUTTERY GODDAMN RIFF!!!!!!!” when :25 hits in “Just As Real But Not As Brightly Lit” like I haven’t listened to it approximately 1000 times in the past five years, so it’s going to take me a while to take it all in… 

    In the meantime, here is my reaction to the album upon my first listen, cleaned up because I was about four shots of rum deep and eating a steak (like, there was actual A1 and grease stains and blood on my notebook).  Again, this is not a review: OF COURSE, I LOVED THIS SHIT. 15/10 STARS. THREE THUMBS UP. A-O-T-NEXT-FIVE-Y(S). GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME. WHERE IS THE GRAMMY!!!!!!

    Dark Distance: Keith is fuckin’ mad on this one… I’m not going to think too hard about how the lyrics —  written and recorded in February 2020 — are about how we all need a good plague to reset society and instead, hope that he writes a little ditty about how a 27-year-old restaurant manager named Rose from Virginia needs to find a loving, tolerant partner who will pay for her to get a Brazilian Butt Lift!

    Sly: This song makes me want to run around in circles like a cat who just took a huge smelly shit just as That Hot Guy From Instagram™ texts you that he’s walking up to your apartment but I actually did just that when they dropped the teaser for this song and ran my forehead straight into the fuckin’ thermostat and passed out…. 

    (Did I mention that I’m 27-years-old? Give my love to Buffalo, indeed!)

    Planet Shit: The most recently released single. The riffs in this song make me feel I got to the impossibly high speed level of Tetris, but took way too much Adderall so I actually lasted for three minutes and 56 seconds instead of screaming “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” and slamming my laptop closed. 

    While the quality of Keith’s lyrics play a large part in the reverence surrounding the band, that nice, clean, concise “fuck you, die” breakdown just hit the spot, man… You could argue with your COVID-denying-Antivaxxer-Qanon-boot-licking-Trumper of a fourth cousin on Facebook, but you could also just tell them that their baby has an abnormally large forehead, y’know?

    Post-Boredom: I’m Haunted By An Eternal Return…. I Never Should Have Allowed It…. I Broke My Own Heart I’m Trying To Convince Myself That I Can Suffer If I Want Motherfucker Just Put Me Back On Your Shelf… 


    Desperate Pleasures: When this first came out, I fucking loved the “it’s almost unbearable/ honestly? terrible” part… It was good to see Sassy Keith back after the grim undertones of Low Teens, and “you got it bad?/ try having passion/ try still believing that some good will happen/ though nothing ever has/ and nothing ever will/ ‘cause nothing ever can” has been my go-to reaction to every inconvenience in my life, such as when I have to hobble to the other bathroom with my pants around my ankles to wipe my ass because it was a shit-emergency and there was no time to check for TP, or when my favorite gas station is out of Marlboro 27s so I have to buy Southern Cuts, or when two horny assholes on a first date are so ensconced in each other’s loving gaze that they keep me at work so late that the grocery stores are closed when I finally get out of that bitch and I was really craving steak… 

    All This And War: Alright… I have a lot of things to say about this one, and most of them are stupid, so I will start with outing myself (ONCE AGAIN) as one of the last remaining The Walking Dead fans… but many of y’all gave up when Glenn died, right? Even though we all knew it was coming? And then when they first killed off Abraham instead, you sat there, thinking “surely, they won’t do it… Abraham got it instead! It won’t be Glenn… Those silly producers have thrown us a twist once agai—OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH GODDDDDDDDDDD THEY DIDDDDDDDDDDD IT HIS FUCKING EYEBALL IS HANGING OUT OHHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”? That was me, gasping and clutching my pearls when Josh Scogin barged in for his feature like I wasn’t warned, and oh, he arrived… He Kool-Aid-Manned that fuckin’ door! He heard that nasty-fucking-redneck-bar-brawl-ass-beater of a riff and had something to say! 

    You know that meme of Anderson Cooper interviewing the Trump family and Melania interrupts him and says “hell00oo00ooOOOO” and he pauses before asking something like “Melania… Is there something you want to say?” and it’s beautifully edited? That’s from 2:00 on in this song, but it’s not so bad it’s funny… it’s fucking deliciously vile… just buttery. Keith said it was the heaviest part they have ever written, and I think he is right. 

    (I assume they will be playing this live at Shitmas and during their December tour, and I would like to note that if the man who I kneed in the balls at Shitmas 2019 from the essay “Sir, She Absolutely Drank Too Much This Evening, But We Think It Was The 47 Stab Wounds…” in Nothing I Do Is Funny Anymore is near me at the time, he shouldn’t be — this time, he will leave with no balls.)

    Thing With Feathers: So, again… I had a lot of rum leading up to the release of this record because it was my Special Day™, I was excited, my steak was resting, and my gastritis had cleared up enough to where it seemed like I could go back to my old overindulgent ways as long as I stayed away from spicy ham. Along with the record, they dropped this song with an accompanying video at midnight: It’s a tribute to Jordan and Keith’s sister Jaclyn, who was born with a rare disease that rendered her unable to learn to talk or walk with a life expectancy of usually 36 years, who died on her 36th birthday. It is beautiful and far different from anything they have ever released, but with Andy Hull (another absolute God)’s help, they nailed it: It felt natural and fits right in. 

    You see, I wasn’t feeling natural… I was drunk, so I tainted the beautiful backstory of this track by sending it to a man that I had finally grown exhausted with after a decade-long affair, because… In A Long Dark Night… You’ve Always Been A Light…. I Think We’re Done Here… and I deserve a roundhouse-thai-kick to the windpipe and a community service sentence for soiling this with my indecency and lack of common sense… …HAUNTED BY AN ETERNAL RETURN I NEVER SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED IT…

    Hostile Architectures: Keith told Twitter in January 2021 that he and his wife had separated and was initially vague about the details in interviews for what he admitted was “legal issues.” He has mentioned enough details since then for me to garner that they (more or less) hated each other for their entire relationship and were forced to finally face that harsh reality once the pandemic hit and he was no longer touring for nine months out of the year. I took this as an excuse to examine Low Teens with a different eye, declare that his first novel Scale was  — just as I had suspected — more of an autobiography than he was willing to admit, and clear up a few “??? sir, surely, you don’t mean that?” moments from their album Ex-Lives and New Junk Aesthetic

    Now, I fucking love this song — the “there’s too many ghosts, not nearly enough spirit/ you hate to hear/ don’t you just hate to hear it?/ I know, I know, I know you hate to hear it” part slaps just as hard in full as it does when they dropped the teaser and I ran around in circles like a cat who just took a huge smelly shit just as That Hot Guy From Instagram™ texts you that he’s walking up to your apartment, and smacked my toe on my 400 pound TV and shattered it (did I mention that I’m 27-years-old?), but had they not broken up… What was he gonna tell her about this one? It’s no “Lovebites and Razorlines” by Glassjaw, but unless he had just fired their gardener because he found his daffodils wilted or was impetuously dropped by his car insurance company, there’d be some explaining to do…

    AWOL: This song is smooth, with a Glassjaw reference. One thing I love the most about ETID is that there is always some point in most of their songs where I have no fucking clue what they are doing with their guitars…. at all; I am following and then, I am completely lost. It’s a sharp, clean, metallic PANG PANG pin pin pin PANG PAN PANG and then it’s VVVavvvVVAAVVVOOOVOOovoovvoOVOOOOOooo and I don’t know what the fuck’s goin on because they squished fifteen riffs in two minutes and ten seconds but I like it because Chaos Reigns and this is some of Keith’s best vocals since “Religion Of Speed” (Low Teens). 

    The Whip: The riff at the end of “El Dorado” from From Parts Unknown is quite possibly my favorite of all time — I would walk down the aisle to it — but the breakdown at the end of “Idiot” from the same album is fucking FOUL, and this song is that breakdown… for two minutes and 30 seconds straight. It’s heavy and disgusting in a way that you can only shrug your shoulders and go, “Well…. SHIT!!!!! ALRIGHT!!!!!” 

    White Void: I first heard this song live a few years back, and I must admit that I texted all my friends who love ETID in distress, for it sounded like… Chevelle, but I love Chevelle, so that was an inaccurate comparison made in haste due to panic: It sounded like horny buttrock that your drunken uncle who is creepy (not towards you… just to you because he has no sense of boundaries and what is ok and not ok to say about your brother’s new girlfriend that he brought to the cookout to one’s own niece/nephew) would love… which is no Chevelle and I am sorry to them for saying that. Had all I heard was this and they released “Post-Boredom” as the first single, I would have panicked and figured they had finally gotten too old and I would be forced to either have to dig up a reason to carry on in my sad, meagre existence or rolled off a cliff… but I knew better: “White Void” is ETID’s version of a sexy, seedy, jukebox ballad that they managed to work in their 50th reference to Nietzsche’s “…and when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you” quote, and yet another bullet point added to Keith’s resume of superb vocal range.

    Distress Rehearsal: Yes!!!! Scream out an uplifting message about how taking a leap of faith into the absurd (or whatever the hell Kierkegaard constantly blabbed about… y’all know I was too dumb to adequetly read his shit) can sometimes be the best thing that’s ever happened to you in your miserable goddamn life over a NASTY ASS RIFF SALAD!!!! 

    (….I wish they placed this before “Thing With Feathers” because I might not have been a stupid whore, but that’s not anybody’s fault but my own.)

    sexsexsex: Months ago, Keith surreptitiously played this on his Twitch stream and thought we would all be distracted by the fact that he can’t stop sucking total ass at Fall Guys to notice, but I rewound, grabbed my headphones that I use for porn, and got a pretty clear listen of it because — like sex(sexsex) — I was pitifully deprived of ETID and there was no reprieve in sight… Anyway: I GOT A DEVIL INSIDE SIXSIXSIXNINE!!!!! 

    People Verses: What a goddamn theatrical-power-stadium-ANTHEM; the “Indian Giver” (Ex-Lives closer) of 2021 with a far less miserable meaning because Keith had finally (sort of) stopped lying to himself in lyrics. Never trust a man, never trust a man, never trust a man who… NAHHHH, WE WILL END IT AT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We Go Together: The final track that I don’t think this song is like anything they had ever done before! 

    …With that being said, it’s hard to top “Map Change” (Low Teens)!

    (I think they should have concluded the album with “People Verses”…) 

    (now, ETID doesn’t have a “bad” song…)

    (so I am not saying that this is a bad song…)

    (but it is hard to top “Map Change”…)

    (…and I think they should have concluded the album with “People Verses.”)

    (I’m sorry.)