Today you are in for a rare treat. In response to the thousands of emails I get from hungry zombie folk wishing to know a bit more about me, I've decided to post one of my actual essays. (Yes, it's one of the ones deemed too self-serving to ever be published anywhere else, but it's my blog, so there!) It's called All I Ever Wanted Was Everything, a title which sums up the essay so well that if you hate my work and only read this blog because your English teacher makes you, you can stop reading now (the test will be multiple choice anyway).
All I Ever Wanted Was Everything
If you gave me one word with which to define my existence, I’d go with desperation—shameless, consuming, crippling desperation. If I want for something, I have to want for it desperately; it says so right there on my official OCD Club membership card. And I’m an expert at wanting.
I want success in my writing. Real success: movie deals and best-seller lists and fan-created websites devoted to my every silly tweet. My novel, Corpse, may have begun as a money-making scheme, a ticket out of the gutter for a dumb-ass who had no idea that writers don’t make money, a seemingly logical plan for a guy not blessed with the body for go-go dancing or male prostitution. But these days I want Corpse to succeed for a wholly different reason. I want validation, some sort of tangible proof that I do, in fact, matter. Perhaps if fundamentalist Christians could burn my books on the steps of the Capitol Building, all the while condemning me to a writhing eternity in Hell--where I'd be the most attractive and popular wraith in a sulfurous cauldron of homosexuals and Jews and the random gypsy--maybe then I could look in the mirror and say, You know something, Josh? You don’t have to apologize anymore. You’re nothing to be ashamed of.
Yes, I want relevance. But I want other things, too.
I want to take ownership of the change that has come over me since my writing career began. Brace yourselves…. I can feel emotions now. There. There, I said it. The other day my Deaf History teacher broke down in class while describing her experience as an interpreter during the dark ages of see-sign. As I furiously typed away, taking notes for my second novel, I realized that my computer screen had gone blurry.
Shit. That couldn’t be a tear swimming in my eye. Could it?
Blink. Blink again. I shook it off, but the truth of my situation wouldn’t be denied: I felt for my teacher, for her little Deaf students. It was happening again! In recent months I’d found these unfortunate emotional responses clouding my inner-landscape ever more often. They started as rare, isolated events—freak accidents, really—that always came about as I typed out some essay or chapter or poem. But somehow these sensations found a footing on the frigid and windswept cliff face that is my conscience; they took root, these weeds of humanity. Their vines crept into my everyday life, and though I do it reluctantly, I have to admit now that I might be a real human after all. Who’d have thought? Certainly not me, the guy who suspected himself a sociopath at eighteen.
This revelation has opened a whole new chamber of needs and desires in the un-beating heart of Count Joshua. I want to overcome my long-suffered aversion to being touched so I can one day have sex again. I want this to happen before I’m thirty. And I want a husband. I want to believe I can have a real relationship, the kind in which you put someone else’s needs above your own once in a while. He’ll be wealthy: an actuary or a trial attorney. An anesthesiologist, perhaps. I don’t wish to be a kept man or anything; I just want a guy who can finance our $80,000 worth of surrogacy. We’ll use his sperm. Sure, I’d love to raise a child with my Max Factor eyelashes and boundless creativity, but I wouldn’t wish my unreasonably hairy armpits upon any member of America’s future, least of all my own son.
Perhaps we’ll adopt an urchin from the third-world instead. It will be hard to leave the thatched hut they call an orphanage with just one, but we’ll know we made the right choice because this baby will look us in the eyes like he knows us. He’ll squeeze our fingers like he’s just rejected Madonna and Katherine Heigl. After all, it was us he was waiting for. Of course I’ll want to name him something clever like Watermelon or GumBaby. My husband, ever the practical one, will insist on a more reasonable name, and so I’ll get him drunk and trick him into naming the baby Jackson Pollock. And you know something? I would love our Jackson. I didn’t think it possible, not really, but now I know I can love. I’m sure of it.
And this assuredness leaves me wanting to forgive. I want to pardon myself for all the years I’ve lost to discontentedness, for time wasted on things I couldn’t accept or overcome, things that retarded my humanity. I want to forgive myself for time that can’t be reclaimed. It’s this that has me up at two a.m. night after night; this that keeps me writing. Each time I tell the truth, each time I awaken another long-sleeping part of myself, I step closer to the things I want so desperately, and to the person I want to become. And when these things are mine, I’ll know I don’t have to be ashamed of my desperation, for it has served me well. And besides, desperation is simply a trait that people with feelings would call passion.
In fact, if you gave me one word with which to define myself, I’d go with passionate—fully, unabashedly, melodramatically passionate.
Until next the moonlight glints off our blood-stained teeth,
P.S. Have you heard there's a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea? A log! I mean, my God!