17 Again

Sometimes, I think I’m living in a dream. I think I’m going to wake up any minute, still in college, done with the horrible nightmare that was the last four years of my life.

Because, there is no way smart A (okay A and B) student Fiona Fire has become this. There is no way she failed so hard at living up to her potential. There is no way she’s so far on the path to becoming her mother.

Sure, I wasn’t the hardest working high school student. I opted out of most activities. I got a lot of B+s in classes I could have easily aced. But I did well. I had potential. Excellent writer, great critical thinking skills. Hell, I was just as good at chemistry and math. I got a 5 on that AP test and it was easy peasy. I could have become a chemist, whatever the fuck chemists do.

But, no, I am here. I am not about to wake up. I am not going to do anything to erase how much I’ve failed to support myself the last few years. This is what I’ve done, and I have no excuses for it. Yes, I have a job. I work. But I don’t work enough and I don’t make enough. Tutoring sounds a lot snazzier than waiting tables, but it’s just as dead end. Maybe more so.

I saw an ad for Californiacation today. That show is the greatest masturbatory fantasy of all time. A good looking novelist turned screenwriter whines about being a sell out, is constantly propositioned by women, and stays in the good graces of his ex-wife and daughter despite being a terrible influence on their lives.

Sometimes, I think I am living a just as maturbatory fantasy. I spend my time writing, or whining about how writing isn’t supporting me, when other people learn real skills and take real jobs.

Sometimes, I think I am going to snap out of it and wonder why I wasted so much time “chasing a dream.” I will wake up and learn to code or get a teaching credential or get some shitty entry level job.

Sometimes, I think I am deluding myself about writing. Do I really love writing or am I just lazy? Is this simply my excuse for working part-time and writing 20 hours a week? Am I looking for writing or am I looking for a job that allows me many, many hours to watch Seinfeld reruns?

Am I looking for something to feed my depression– some excuse to stare at the computer with my heart torn from my gut?

I don’t know. I’m having one of those days where I just feel exhausted. I’m trying to cram a rewrite into one week, and I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to maintain focus. This whole book publishing endeavour has been as painful as it has been pleasurable.

My expectations were too high, sure, but I’ve never felt as fucking devastated as I did that first month.

I feel like my only chance at ever being successful is by writing. And, right now, it is. I’ve got no other fucking skills. So, every time my writing fails to live up to its potential (ugh), I feel both the sting of disappointment and the sting of OMG I HAVE NO FUTURE.

Maybe I’m melodramatic. I don’t know. Maybe I need to bite the bullet and get a day job. I have six or seven months until I’m finished with my tutoring commitments. That’s plenty of time to learn a skill, intern, get a portfolio in order. Something…

It would be easier than writing, honestly.

And I’d have a steady paycheck. I’d have a career path. I’d have a future.

The thought of it makes me sick.

But so does the thought of continuing like this. I’ve almost completely lost the motivation to write any screenplays. I can’t believe it took me film school and four years to realize how fucking hopeless it all is. I can’t even work on my super awesome, super fun idea. And it fucking kills to keep writing this romance series when I know nobody fucking cares about it. My reasonable self tells me I can make some changes to make it a little more palatable to readers. My reasonable self tells me I didn’t get enough exposure, that I gave away over well over a thousand copies during a five day promo with no advertising, that people will want to read it once they find it.

But that other part of myself screams that I am a stupid failure, again. And why do I bother working so hard when A) no one cares and B) I don’t make any fucking money? Really, why? I could invest so much of myself if I did something different. Sure, I would never really be excited about my work. I wouldn’t feel that passion. But who needs passion? Passion is a curse. Passion is a roller coaster. It demands all of your time and energy.

Maybe life would be easier if it were flatter. A train ride instead of a train wreck.

But, every time I try to talk myself into quitting, I get all sorts of ideas about a character at a turning point, thinking of abandoning her passion… and, of course, being reminded that she has to hold onto it.

That’s the narrative of art. Of course it is. It’s made by artists.

But, my imagination always runs away with all sorts of possibilities. I’ll win Nicholls, Jennifer Lawrence will star in my movie, I’ll win an Oscar (Jenny will win one too), Roger Ebert will come back from the dead to give me 4 stars, I’ll write a bestseller, earn a thousand five star reviews, have a rabid fan base who constantly asks me when my next book is coming out. I’ll be so rich, I’ll have a house in NY and a house in LA, and hell, why not one in Portland or Seattle too? I’ll travel the world. I’ll finally have the wardrobe of my dreams, and I’ll looks awesome at all times. No jeans and baggy t-shirt bullshit. I’ll have all sorts of friends. My life with be full–hobbies, an active social calendar, better relationships with my family. And I will look at my bank account and feel safe, because I have more money than I can spend. And I’ll fall asleep content, finally.

It’s all bullshit, I know. Back in high school (and even middle school), I was chubby. I daydreamed about the life I’d have once I lost weight. Things would be perfect. I’d be popular, stylish, cool. My grades would be better. I’d be prettier. I’d finally have a boyfriend.

And guess what– I was never more miserable than when I got down to 125 pounds. (I’m 5’10”, okay. That’s quite thin). I’ve never been more lonely. I was bulimarexic and depressed and the only reason why I’d even eat my fucking lunch was so I could get through my work out. I thought about driving into freeway dividers. I thought about swallowing bottles of sleeping pills. I lied in bed all afternoon crying to songs about suicide.

And I was only 17. Fucking 17.

It’s so easy for those of us that call ourselves artists to glamourize this pain. Oh, we’re so fucking deep and insightful because we hurt so much. And maybe there is some truth to it. Maybe we do have a better understanding of life, knowing how easily our brains can lie to us, knowing how hard we have to fight to even feel normal.

Or maybe we’re pathetic, whiny losers. Maybe we really can suck it up and get a job and contribute to society.

I once got into an argument with a friend over a Blink 182 song. He was annoyed by the singer whining about his hard high school life. Now, my friend is a rather self-centered person and he seems to believe that because he works 60-70 hours a week (when he’s employed, works in *shocker* the VFX industry. Shocking that a job in the film industry sucks) other people can’t have problems. But I told him I suffered more fucking pain in high school than some people suffer in their whole lives.

I feel like an asshole for saying that. Who the fuck do I think I am, claiming all this pain like it makes me special? But it’s true. I feel like I’ve had so much pain in my life, and sometimes I wonder if I can really add any more to it.

Can I really take yet another disappointment?

Can I really suffer any more pain?

It might be better to say no now. To get a job, work 40 hours a week, and stay too busy to realize I’m not fulfilled. Maybe I would be fulfilled. I don’t know.

I don’t even know what I’m saying.

I started getting really serious about writing in high school, back when I was feeling all that pain. All that honest, raw emotion. And, really, journaling constantly was the only way I could keep it from rising up and swallowing me whole.

Maybe it would have been better if it swallowed me then. I wouldn’t have wasted so many years of other peoples lives dragging into this black hole. I wouldn’t have spend 100 grand of my dad’s money on a useless film degree.

But what good does that do me now? I know I’m a depressive. I have fucked up brain chemistry. I eat right. I exercise. I’m in therapy. It only does so much. I’ve tried pills, but I don’t like them. Sometimes, I feel like I have to devote all my mental energy to keeping depression at bay, to keeping it mild. It comes back no matter what, no matter how good things are.

It can be the tiniest thing, the tiniest disappointment.

My pain doesn’t make me more real or more authentic or more worthy. It just makes me another whiny, entitled brat.

And nobody wants to read some depressed bitch’s depressing shit.

I had this moment a few years ago. I realized that it would hurt too many people if I did kill myself. And I realized that the great challenge of my life would be making it to the end without committing suicide.

It’s exhausting.

And writing is exhausting.

And failing over and over again is too fucking exhausting.

Maybe I just need to pick up the pieces and accept mediocrity.

The truth is, I haven’t changed that much since high school. If I look at my high school journal, my thoughts are exactly the same. Sure, they sound a little nicer now. The polish is better. The writing is better. But it’s the same shit, over and over again.

I’m still melodramatic.

I’m still in my room, crying by myself.

I’m still incapable of getting thoughts from my head to my mouth.

An eating disorder was the only thing that got me through my high school depression.

If I’m being totally honest, nothing has felt right since. I’ve lacked that purpose, that reason to wake up every day.

So I think I will wake up from this dream and be 17 again, trapped in that ugly gray life, pouring thoughts onto my drab gray blog (Diaryland, of course).

But at least I will have eight years of potential I’m yet to waste.

I’m a logical person. I can see the results of my actions. I put so much time and effort into my writing and the net result is pain. The opportunity cost is so high. There is some fulfillment, yes, but it comes at such a heavy price.

Is it better to cut my losses?

I don’t know. I wish someone else had the answers. I shouldn’t be responsible for them. I barely have any mental energy left. I used it all up trying not to slip into another fit of depression. Again.

I swear. I don’t even know how I’ll manage to have a job. I really don’t.

I kept a lot of journals in high school, online and on my computer. Xanga is down. Diary x is down. So many of my thoughts have turned to cyber dust.

It means something, but I’m not sure what.

I can’t think of an apt metaphor, but I have to wonder… what will happen as all these disappointments add up? At some point, where my heart just break?

Maybe that would put it out of its misery.


3 thoughts on “17 Again

  1. I wish I could offer you some sort of insight or words of inspiration. I’m a bit older, and things do become more clear with age, but you have to look at yourself and determine what things are important to you, what you’ll regret later, and realize that those still might change. I wish you well! As artists, we constantly struggle, which isn’t encouraging, I know…but chin up! 🙂

  2. I don’t know you, obviously. But I feel like we’ve walked to same path. (I also don’t know how old you are!) I even went to film school like you did, and I wonder now if anything will come of that ridiculously expensive investment.
    I have the good fortune to have the unflagging support of my mother, who… might’ve given up on me a long time ago if she had been someone else’s mother. 🙂
    I don’t have any solutions for you, but I do offer encouragement. Which, yeah, I know… the encouragement of a stranger. Woo hoo. 🙂
    But whatever resources or wisdom I have is yours, if you like. Need a sounding board for your script or novel? Consider me. I love working on other people’s stories. 🙂

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