Getting to know me

How pathetic is this pathetic life? That's what I'm wondering as I lie in bed, looking at nothing, thinking nothing, just liquifarting and waiting for enough energy to get up and pee.

Answer: It's pretty pathetic, so today I'm gonna rip myself apart.

I've had perhaps five real friends in my life. One of them I doublecrossed twice, ending the friendship. It was nothing noir or anything, I'd promised I'd help with a major project, then wimped out and didn't. Another friend, I abandoned by leaving Seattle, and haven't kept in touch. So I have three friends left, and wonder how I'll lose them.

My net worth is about $150, not counting the cash value, if any, that my flabby body parts might have on the black market.

I am not particularly bright. When I'm with my friends, they're kind enough not to say it, but I am gently aware I'm the dummy in the room. What's amazing, though, and terrifying when I think about it, is that compared to the average boob on the street, I'm Einstein.

And same as being not-so-smart but smarter than most, there's my writing. It's the only thing I love to do, and I don't do it very well (see: this article), but do you ever browse through a bookstore or magazine rack full of People magazine and Harlequin Romances? I know I'm no Hemingway, but people make a living writing far worse shit than the shit I write.

Music is nice but not a passion, and I rarely go to clubs unless invited. By habit, though, all invitations to go anywhere or do anything are declined, so 'rarely' means 'never'. I am socially awkward, and feel out of place in almost any situation involving other humans. My idea of an exciting evening is to curl up in bed alone, reading a good zine. 

Mom and Dad loved me, and did a fine job beating their goody-two-shoes philosophy into me. Not a lot of beatings, mind you, only the ones I deserved.

And their morals seeped in under the bruises. When a grocery clerk gives me too much change, I'll probably point it out, unless the clerk has been really rude. In four years living in and around Frisco, I've only snuck through the automated BART gates twice, and those weren't even attempts to cheat; the gates were malfunctioning and I wanted to ride a train, not chase down a station agent.

So I'm an honest enough man, and a decent citizen, and a very boring man. I yawn at myself in the mirror.

My penis works, and it's my favorite thing in the world, but I can count my sexual partners on the fingers of… hey! Thanks to Sarah-Katherine, I now need a second hand to count the women in my life. Females almost never notice me, and if they do it's only to walk around me on their way to someone else, so I am not the swinging bachelor I imagined I'd be when I first moved into my own apartment.

Once, I very briefly fooled around with another man's wife, and it still bothers my conscience, even though we didn't do much, and the guy was a schmuck, and his wife deserved better than him, better than me.

I've smoked marijuana (coughing a lot) and dropped acid, but I'm very cautious along those lines, and generally avoid drugs. When I once found myself accidentally high from cough syrup, I didn't enjoy it — it scared me.

I've been known to drink a beer when I'm thirsty and you're buying, but I'd prefer a soda. It tastes better. So I've never been drunk. Two beers give me a tiny buzz, and that's enough. Saw plenty of drunks in high school, the kids whose idea of a great weekend was breaking last weekend's puke record.

In the city, drunks and derelicts are everywhere, living for their next can or bottle. I certainly see the attraction of turning everything in the world to an out-of-focus fuzz, but I do that by retreating into my bedroom, alone with a ham sandwich, or four.

Call me a boring man — you're on page 15 of a zine called Pathetic Life, so 'boring' should be obvious — but I would rather sit here, staring at my typewriter, alone with only my unclouded thoughts, than go to a concert or a bar with a bunch of so-called friends.

I would rather be alone, so alone is where I am and where I'll be, tonight, and tomorrow, and forever.

From Pathetic Life #18
Wednesday, November 8, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. We don't know the composition of the next Senate, but it's clear that the Republican Great Red Wave didn't happen. A look at the preliminary voting data shows that nearly all demographic groups leaned Republican, with two notable exceptions: 1) Young people, voting for the first or second time and 2) Immigrants voting for the first, second, or third time. Those two demographics voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. As a result, it's likely that instead of having a two or three vote majority in the Senate, Republicans will be one horny, violent former footballer in Georgia away from ceding the Senate control they had assumed they would have.

    My humble thanks go out to the young folks: college campuses across the nation had voting lines stretching around buildings into the night to exercise their rights of citizenship. I extend those same thanks to the folks who began their lives in different countries and adopted whatever freedoms we have left by choice rather than by birth.

    I would write a poem about America as a land of immigrants, but Emma Lazarus beat me to it, and I can't top her. Her poem, which she donated to the effort to raise money for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, has appeared on this site before, but it's a wonderful sonnet, so it's time for it to appear again.

    As you might recall, Lazarus compares the Statue of Liberty to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She compares the ancient male statue symbolizing war and conquest with the new female statue symbolizing a welcoming of immigrants (she calls them "exiles"). It is a powerful comparison, and every word of the sonnet stresses the welcoming of those exiles as a new kind of world power. It is a brilliant, moving poem which was lost for a decade or two after the pedestal was funded and constructed, and was restored early in the 20th century in a plaque inside the pedestal.

    [The French people, as a token of their affection for American freedoms and America's welcoming of "exiles" gave the statue to the people of the United States with two small omissions: the instructions on the statue itself said, "Some Assembly Required" (it came in many pieces) and the warning "Pedestal Not Included". Because the gift was received many decades before the New Deal and the Great Society, the US federal government didn't have the money to construct the pedestal. The funds to do so were raised by donations from American school children and by gifts like the Lazarus poem.]

    Here, then is the wonderful sonnet Ms Lazarus wrote to help build the pedestal:

    The New Colossus
    by Emma Lazarus

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

    "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    (The "twin cities" were New York and Brooklyn which were separate cities at the time.)


    1. Hooray for the youngins and newcomers and everyone else who voted sanely. I welcome the news that fascists and lunatics didn't do quite so well as predicted.

      I ain't celebrating, though. The fuckers should've lost 99-1. Republicans are still taken seriously by the voters, and that is a kick in democracy's balls.

      They'd lose more elections, even in the South, if there was a party that opposed them. There isn't.

      The Democratic Party, including the President, only role-plays as the good guys. They say the right things, sometimes even do the right thing, but with the exception of The Squad, Democrats in office are always soft-spoken and eager to compromise with Republicans working against reality and democracy.

      So I ain't as optimistic as you, bit I love your optimism.

      And that's a grand old poem, and I'd always wondered what Minneapolis and St Paul were doing on the Statue of Liberty.


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