Before I knew how to talk to people in real life (coworkers will tell you I never actually learned) I learned to talk to people on the internet. I was 14, I had an old TRS-80 from my Dad’s office, and, at night, I would use it with a direct connect 300 baud modem to call a “citizen’s band emulator” and chat with college students. The system would only let you log in until a certain hour, so the trick was to get in there early and the reward was that you got to stay all night, quoting Python, flirting, arguing about God, asserting your blossoming manhood, such as it was, all through the beautifully face-blind, tone-deaf medium of pure green text on a black screen.
In the 24 years since, I have learned - kind of - to talk to people in real life, mostly through performance techniques made habit; projection, forced eye contact, using my hands and my face to say “I’m here, I get it, I’m with you, I’m alive,” because that’s how people are in real life and if you stick out too much, you’re alone, and alone is really bad. Alone is no words, no words is no time, no feeling, no life, the blackness between the green.
We all had to learn to do it and we all learned to do it differently and we’re all pretty much equally weird at the end of the day, but what I’m expressing to you, right now, with these words, is that I am much, much more comfortable expressing myself this way than that other way. I have a better chance at connecting with you through text than through winking and smiling. I am a hovering cloud of letters twisting and shuffling itself in any way it can to feel alive, and I am at my emotionally healthiest, or so I would have myself believe, when I have 100 percent transparency of intent and result with as large a sampling of humanity as possible. Blogging was always my most effective form of therapy.
I’ve been cut off from that blogging therapy for years, now, because there’s a heightened political aspect to network TV. There’s big bucks on the line for the companies that pay me and there’s tuition and medicine and food on the line for over two hundred talented craftsmen that work to make our show. I have to try my best to seem as sane and stable as possible, which rules out constant journaling of every embarrassing ping and ricochet inside my rusting hull. In lieu of a blog, I had my girlfriend. She was a verbal thinker, like me, as close to pure green text as you can get while still having a heart, and she gave that heart to me, trusted me with it, so I could come home and tell her everything, and she would tell me everything was okay. We broke up. I fucked her over. I didn’t want to get married. I did a bad thing to a good person, that’s all you have to know about that.
Moths circle porch lights because they think it’s the moon. They fly in a straight line by keeping the moon in a fixed position to one side of their vision, so, if they get close enough to a light bulb, their desire to fly straight results in a spiral that eventually fries them to death. I know, from a lifetime of observation, that I am capable of spirals and frying, unless I keep something big and glowing to the side of my vision. So just stay where you are and let me talk to you once in a while, and everything will turn out for the best. The good news for me being, it’s not like you have a choice, because you don’t really exist. I have chosen my moon wisely. Shut up and glow. Have some craters or something, I don’t care.
My girlfriend hugged me goodbye at the Channel 101 screening on Saturday night, and when she hugged me, her body trembled, and filled me with shame. Or stirred my sedentary shame into an honest suspension.
I don’t like myself very much. I need to say that on some kind of record and then I’m fine for hours or days. You can’t say it to a real person, they’ll just say, “that’s okay,” or “you should” or “you shouldn’t,” they’ll react, they’ll move, they’ll strategize, they’ll try to adjust me or they’ll run away. I don’t want it refuted or debated or therapeutically massaged. It’s not a projection or a misdirection or a distortion. It’s just a statement about how I feel. Just shut up and listen to me, you big dumb moon. I don’t like myself. And I don’t want to for a long, long time.
And I never want to feel that kind of tremble again. And I put that on a separate line so that it feels profound. And now I’m undercutting that so I feel clever. And now I’m saying that so I feel normal. I don’t want to get away with anything ever again. I don’t want to trick anyone into thinking I’m a hero ever again.
Thanks for your time. I’ll talk to you soon. The season’s going to be really good, I think. We just finished rewriting an episode that I think might be the best ever. We’re table reading it at lunch, I’ll be able to tell better then. But there was a joy at the keyboard, in the wee hours, that felt very “D&D episode.” Then again, I never know what I’m doing. I hope you don’t either.
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