40 or 50 Things About Me

I don’t wanna be a burden on nobody. Here these things are if you want to read them.

1. It drives me near madhouse when someone says they have lived a life without regrets. It’s a good thing to keep moving and all, and we all like that song by the pretty little French dame, but if you can really say you have no regrets you’ve gone through life without paying any attention. Pay attention, you lick.

2. Three things that make me despair for all humanity: the way people drive, the way people carry on around money, and Laundromats. Three things that make me have hope for all humanity: good parents, people who are straight up in love, and the banjo.

3. We crossed a dangerous line when we started asking athletes what they think about things.

4. I sure do like me a good soda pop. Hats off to you Mr. John Stith Pemberton.

5. Similarly I enjoy drinking alcohol. Once I was a beer snob but that shit catches up to you in terms of efficiency and heaviness so I have since moved on to hard liquor. There is no fucking around with that content. I cannot drink wine because it makes me feel like bringing up a burrito, but you sit me someplace where I can get some whiskey or a good martini and you will find me a loyal friend.

6. Once, I wrote down what I thought were the five dominant themes in the kind of fiction I enjoyed writing as well as that I enjoyed reading. I can only remember two of them, which are “the uses of violence” and “the impossibility of perfection”.

7. It’s very easy to get me to want to go someplace if it can be described well in prose. I’ve moved to at least two places just because I liked the way someone set it forth to me in print, and almost moved to one more. I don’t even particularly cotton to Los Angeles, but I still occasionally find myself wanting to go there just because of one Mr. Raymond Chandler.

8. Women sure are pretty to me. Sometimes I think they will never stop being so.

9. I have affection for both dogs and cats. I would not kick either one of them off of my living room rug. But more and more I think I like cats better, on account of they will be very affectionate to you when the mood strikes them but on the whole, they are all well fuck you then, I’ll see you at dinner which you better have ready on time or I am going to so turn my bitch lights on you. A dog meanwhile, a dog you have to always ask, well what more do you want from me?

10. I don’t think I am going to live forever. This has allowed me to do all kinds of hurtful things to myself like drinking, pills, and eating far too many steak meals.

11. When asked to compile a list of 25 interesting things about myself, I can be counted on to take a restlessly ridiculous approach to the task.

12. Here is something I read somewhere that turned out to be pretty wise: a reasonably intelligent person can look at any decent piece of contemporary art, a movie or TV show or novel or what have you, and seriously consider having created it themselves.

13. Here is something else I read somewhere that turned out to be pretty wise: smoking a cigareet gives you something to do with your hands.

14. There is at least one thing in my apartment that could get me sent to prison. Maybe more, depending on where I’m writing this.

15. I am somewhat proud of my ability not to take disagreements over culture personally.

16. I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 30 (I have nine now). I didn’t grow my first beard until I was 39. I didn’t get high on zoot until I was 25.

17. I ain’t really into the whole idea of foisting off the various fucked-upperies of one’s life on your parents, but I have a lot of theories about how family shit can really put the zap on your head. Most of these theories are stupid.

18. Contradictions: I am pretty heavy into the idea of animal rights, but I love to eat meat. I don’t like drunks, but I like getting drunk. I hate gun owners, but I love guns. I love to watch and play sports, but I generally hate sports fans. I hate what car culture has done to our country and our environment, but boy do I love to drive.

19. I spend a lot of time inside my own head, making up a world that’s different than the one I live in. Not better – just different. One way or another, I’m going to be someone’s God.

20. The whole self-loathing tip I’ve been on most of my life, I know that’s not much of a tip and it only makes you more of a schmuck in the eyes of them that matters. I try not to make that my tip so much any more. But I do say this: there are them that are going to their grave thinking that they’re good people when they’ve been spending their whole lives acting otherwise. My only goal in life is to not be one of those people.

21. When I was a kid, my dream was to be a sitcom writer. Come to think of it, that’s still my dream.

22. The first computer I ever had was a Texas Instruments that hooked up to the tee vee. I also had a Commodore 64, and an Apple IIc, and one of the very first Macs. And after all that, what’s the most I ever learned how to do on a computer? You’re lookin’ at it, sporto.

23. I spent my prom night sitting in the back of a truck with a guy named Schmidtsky getting drunk on bad beers and chucking the empties at all the kids who were happier than I was. That’s a metaphor right there.

24. I used to play pretty good baseball. In college I struck out a future All-Star on four pitches.

25. All told what am I good for? Not a lot but sometimes people miss me when I’m gone, and I tend to have a pretty good line on somebody when they’re shitheadin’. Worse can be said.

26. The wisest thing I ever learned from the Joker is that if you’re good at something, you should never do it for free. The second-wisest is that you should kill people with knives.

27. I was gonna go into my normal screed about how much I hate it that everyone thinks writing is easy, and that anyone can be a writer, but I realize it just makes me sound bitter and cranky. I’ll leave it at this: most people who call themselves writers are bad and they should stop.

28. I remembered one of the other Big Themes I am generally obsessed with in writing: the Futility of Human Desires. For someone who writes a lot of humor, I can be kind of a downer, apparently. Then again, these themes can all be funny as hell, because what’s funnier than someone not getting what they want?

29. I have an uncanny ability to say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. Once, for example, I walked into one of my high school classes, and everyone was looking really mopey and blue, and I said “Jeez, who died?” It turns out one of our classmates had drowned over the weekend.

30. I’ve never really gotten to the point where I’d actually attempt suicide, but I think about it all the time. I honestly don’t think it’s that big a deal, and if there’s something I’ll never understand, it’s why people get mad at people who kill themselves.

31. Speaking of suicide, once I was really depressed. Mostly it was over a girl (of course), but there was a bunch of other stuff circulating in my dome at the time as well. And I wasn’t suicidal in a put-a-gun-in-my-mouth sense, but I was thinking about snuffing it more than usual. And the thing that saved my life was listening to “Hey Swifty” by the Ass Ponys. I can talk about this at incredibly tedious length if prompted.

32. The biggest regret that I have that doesn’t involve not being a fucking heel to people I cared about is that I never learned how to draw. It’s especially frustrating, given my love of comics, and it drives me just about batso that most of the people I know who are good artists are also good writers. Motherfuckers.

33. I have been shot at twice, stabbed once, and beaten up a handful of times. I’ve been arrested nine times and served one hitch in county jail. I have dealt drugs, sold weapons, and attacked someone for money. Pretty much not a day goes by that I’m not committing some crime or another. And yet I think I’d be a pretty lousy professional criminal.

34. I’ve had money and I’ve been poor, but no matter what my financial situation, but I still carry with me a poor person’s distrust of institutions. I have a real hard time getting comfortable with banks, doctors, schools, and cops.

35. Speaking of cops, once a cop beat me up when I didn’t deserve it. Another time, a cop in the same city didn’t beat me up when I did deserve it. That’s humanity for you.

36. I’m a lot less fucked up about money than I used to be, but I’m still pretty neurotic about it. It’s the thing I’m most ashamed of.

37. I don’t seem to have a specific physical type when it comes to women I’ve dated, or even women I’m attracted to. I don’t say this is admirable, just apparently sort of unusual. Fucking women, man, they’re all pretty, right?

38. On the other hand, I do seem to have a thing for women who are, were, or will eventually be, lesbians. This probably says something horrible about me.

39. I have met three Presidents of the United States, including our current one. I have met one Vice-President.

40. Here’s another roaring annoyance: when people say critics are just people who can’t do art themselves. Even if it were not obvious to anyone who isn’t a total jackass that criticism is an artform in itself, haven’t enough great artists come from the ranks of critics by now to put the lie to this ridiculous notion?

41. If you ask most guys what character from The Office they are, most of them will say Jim, or Dwight, or maybe Creed. I, on the other hand, am more of a heterosexual Oscar.

42. I am good at flirting over instant messenger. I am bad at flirting in person, because I am a fat awkward drunk. Obviously this means I should only date computer-generated chat bots.

43. I wish I was on a road trip right now.

44. Among the theories about family that I believe despite the fact that it’s probably a really stupid theory is that it’s almost impossible for someone who grew up without brothers or sisters to relate to someone who grew up with them, and vice versa.

45. Doing something that you think will impact the future, that might still mean something after you’re dead, is an act so simultaneously optimistic and audacious that it’s probably insane. I’m glad I know a lot of people who are like that.

46. I have been to 19 of the 20 largest cities in the United States, and lived in five of them.  But I have never been to New York City.

47. I have the opposite of the tendency to talk shit about people behind their back. I love to shit-talk people to their faces. Conversely, I always seem to say really nice things about people when I know I’m in circumstances where they’ll never hear about it.

48. There are two main things that keep me from becoming a Unabomer-style hermit, and they are hot showers and cold ice. This is a ghastly thing to admit in these days of environmental peril but sometimes I take half-hour-long showers that don’t have anything to do with hygiene; I just like standing under hot water.  And sitting in the shower is all that I dreamed it would be and more.

49. Something that’s become clear to me in recent years that I wish more writers would realize: the more a character resembles yourself, the less interesting and believable that character is. If you were all that interesting, you wouldn’t need to be a writer. Of course, every character you create is in some way a part of you, but the real strength of the great authors is to access those parts of themselves that they recognize the least.

50. I can’t do a goddamn single one of these more.


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