Today is Tuesday and I transmit from a trailer in a trailer park on the southeast of town. The sun shines. The windÂ has tapered down. Weather’s about to turn for the warmer.Â I love warm. AndÂ my trailer isÂ awesome. Did I mention that? This is home now. Republican country. I’m surrounded by Christians. Me,Â a liberal atheist, but if IÂ keep my mouth shut in most people’s company, it’s fine.Â Lots of nice people around here.
I attended a luncheon today and heard this beautiful woman speak about how she’sÂ beautiful. All comes down to attitude. Yeah, she’s physically beautiful and works out and isÂ mindful of nutrition, but this womanÂ exudes aÂ spirit thatÂ dazzled me.Â Toward the end of her presentation this womanÂ mentionedÂ ”crab mentality.”Â Â Have you heard of this? Apparently, ifÂ you putÂ crabs in the same bucket and leave them thenÂ come back the next day, all the crabs will have remained in the bucket.Â Although, upon further investigation,Â you’ll notice a fewÂ crabs areÂ missing legs.Â Apparently, when any one crab tries to climb outÂ the bucket, the other crabs grab hold and pull him back in, sometimes so hard theyÂ rip his damnedÂ leg off. Like, where you going? You’re staying here with us.
This is a beautiful metaphor for how peopleÂ drag each other down. I love it, howÂ poignant it is. We’re all crabs in a bucket.Â It’s terrible. Even people who mean well will drag you the fuck down sometimes.Â All of a sudden, your sunshiny glow is wane. WhichÂ is what they wanted after all, evenÂ if they didn’t realize it.
Writers understand this better than most. We’reÂ a population of people who are super sensitive to innuendo and nuance, but we’reÂ alsoÂ accustomed toÂ a lack of empathy for what we do. In fact,Â what we do is a threat to other people sometimes because we’reÂ tenacious and focused about it,Â so devoted we areÂ toÂ the task of writing, the process. It’s allÂ consuming. We live for it. Like oxygen.Â I’m getting the fuck out of the bucket. Limbs or no limbs. Bye! Writing is myÂ religion.Â Weird to people who don’t write; perhaps even blasphemy. But I have a passion, you see, a passion for something specific, something that demandsÂ time and energy,Â and some people wish I had that passion for something else.Â Years ago, I lived with this guyÂ who told me Â I loved writing more than him. Every time I sat down to write he said this. “You love writing more than me.” Eventually, it was true. Don’t get in my way is all I’m saying.
This morning I forgot why I take birth control pills.Â I don’t take them for thierÂ intended use.Â I know that. So I had to think. ThenÂ I remembered. EstrogenÂ minimizes my acne.Â Then I remembered the last time I had sex. ThatÂ wasÂ 2008 in San Diego, a hotel room with my lover at the time who’d flown me to San Diego for a Stone Temple Pilots concert. Nothing turned me on more at the time than Scott Weiland, the lead singer for the Stone Temple Pilots, and my lover knew that. Such romance. He gave me Scott Weiland as foreplay and thenÂ we rocked the mattress half-way off the bed later.Â Priceless.
An old friend of mine just started reading my column here and sent me a message on Facebook about how she was a shocked by how blunt I am as a writer. Yeah. Well. This is the only forum in which I’m allowed to say what I want, what I think and feel. Otherwise, you know how many times a day I bite my tongue? Oh Jesus. A hundred times.Â In fact, today someone I knowÂ said, “IÂ wish I could tell so-and-so exactly what I think,” and I was like, “Yes. Yes! YES.”
But who’s really going to say what they think? As honest and butt-ass naked asÂ I’m willing to get hereÂ sometimes, I never say everything I want to say. If I was incognito, sure. I’d let some shit fly.Â There’s something to be said for writing a column not as yourself but as aÂ super alter-ego. Yeah? A pen name. Yeah! Except,Â if I wouldn’t say it here as myself should IÂ be saying it? Good question. I think as writers we have this responsibility to speak up and it’s always easier when we couch it as fiction.Â For instance, right nowÂ I’m reading Normally Special by xTx, and oneÂ story begins,Â ”It is difficult to masturbate about your father, but not impossible, as it turns out.” Who says that? I mean, really?Â Who the hell says that? A writer using a pen name writing fiction through an imaginary person’s eyes. That’s who. Listen. I LOVE xTx. You hear me? I love you. The storyÂ in question addresses theÂ complicated and twisted psyche of a girl who’s father fucked her as a child. Man. I mean. Oh, man. Thank you. Sometimes fiction speaks more volumes of truth thanÂ non-fictionÂ ever can. For one thing, truth in non-fiction causes all kinds of grief.
Example. Yesterday on Facebook,Â Shanna Germain shared an experience she’d had as a writer. About what happens when we write non-fiction as ourselves. No cover, not even a silk scarf. Several months ago, Shanna wrote this incredible essay for aÂ website called F-Stop. The entire concept for F-Stop was brilliant. WritersÂ bare their skin, bare their souls.Â Shanna’s essay was the first to go live and soon as I read it I knew, all over again, why I’m so in love with Shanna Germain. You hear me? I love you, Shanna, andÂ I’m lucky to call you friend. The essay involved Shanna’s family. Consequently,Â a member of Shanna’sÂ familyÂ discovered the essay, read it,Â then took offense.Â Which brings into question all sorts of things writers deal with, doesn’t it? For instance,Â I started to think about my own writing, what I’ve written here. The scabs I’ve pulled off and the blood I’ve let you taste.Â I still contend with a wounded child.Â She’s here in me, crying, and yet, she’sÂ also a willful, prideful girl lashing out; she’sÂ selfish.
At some point we all have to say, I’m responsibleÂ forÂ the decisions I make, the actions I take.Â It’s not a lynch mob. I’m not burning anyone at the stake. I don’t writeÂ from a mean or spiteful place; I’m notÂ vindictive. This isn’t Mommy Dearest. And neither wasÂ Shanna Germain’s essay. Still, when we write non-fiction, we take a risk, which brings me back to the whole using a pen name and saying everything I’d like to say.Â The fact I don’t use a pen name for my column, or my fiction for that matter, but mainly my column, keeps me honest.Â I speak only for me. Every writer will feel differently, obviously. But for me,Â using a pen nameÂ might free me from personal responsibility. Maybe. What I mean is,Â every really good piece of memoirÂ implicates the author more than anyone else. It’s us, taking the shots for being human.Â That’s what I mean. Why memoirists are like Jesus.
Body of Christ. Cup of salvation. And a bucket of crabs. Amen.