What follows is something I found lurking in my Documents folder. (I’m so bored, guys.) It was saved on August 8, 2010, and is entitled, “A Foreward That May Never Be Read.”
JOKE’S ON YOU, ASSHOLE, I’M READING IT, AND I’M PUTTING IT ON THE INTERNET. Here we go:
Who the heck writes a memoir at twenty-one years old?
Oh my God, I hate you already.
Well, it seems like a lot of folks lately are writing premature, half-lived narratives these days. I am a complete authority on the matter since I read a little bit about it on one source for twenty minutes this afternoon. If you type “memoir” in the search engine over at the delicious AV Club, outward is churned nearly every review the website has done for books in aforestated genre.
“Delicious?!” Are you hitting on it, Small-Dani? What is even happening?
Anyway, there was one eventually that discussed how memoirs used to be venues for folks who had lived nearly completed (or at least full-ish), interesting lives. The writer seemed to suggest that the way some people use memoirs today is akin to a nonfiction literary Facebook status update. The AV Club’s representative blamed our solipsistic, self-absorbed generation for a hike in memoiring. We all imagine that our lives lend themselves to sublime reading material. I see the point. Why do I want to read about someone else’s life while they’re still living it? Why would I want to write about my own life while I’m living it? Is my ego that huge? Do I have such amazing self-esteem? Yes and no. I fully believe that I have lived some tales that bear repeating.
Y’all remember when I got dumped by a puppet? This moron hadn’t even had that happen yet, and they think they’ve got stories.
Furthermore, I believe that I have enough of a writer’s panache that I could weave said tales into something that a human being besides my mom/roommate might want to read. My ego says READ MY WORDS. Froth froth froth! My self-esteem says GO AWAY. I AM A GOOFBALL AND NONE OF THESE STORIES WORTH REPEATING FILL ME WITH PRIDE. But! I know they’re worth a chuckle, so the ego beats the esteem. Ego and Esteem are not one in the same. Nor are they even Jekyll and Hyde-like extensions of one another… perhaps Ego as the dark, marauding avatar of Esteem. They are separate entities, each residing in her own cubicle in working on the telling of my tales.
Why are they in cubicles? This is the worst Inside Out fanfiction ever.
What are we going to talk about in this “memoir?” Here’s a few things that, today, I do NOT want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about sex. Now, this puts you at something of a disadvantage, because, believe you me, I am hysterically slutty. My nerd sex tales will make you laugh and cry. My teachers want me to make you cry. That is more important than laughing. You know what’s sad? Anyone as determined as I am to make you laugh. Love me, reader. Positive attention me but one time and I will give you a spectacular blow job. (I have a really big mouth.)
OKAY. Pause. First of all, I’m proud to note that I was ahead of the Big Mouth curve. Suck it, Netflix! And also… wow, yeah, I remember this. I remember being in college, and feeling like my wacky, slutty, sad stories were my only stories worth telling, so… like, I had to keep being a wacky slut, didn’t I? And I still don’t really want to write about sex. I kind of feel like this confused, 21-year-old all over again, just on a different piece of the spectrum. I am scared and confused, and there’s a good chance that I’m going to purposefully get up to some wacky sex-shenanigans just so that I feel I am worth talking to.
Teachers! I am tired of crying! I have cried for three years, nearly every day.
Yeah, that was true.
I am a broken, ruint speck of a girl-thing. I am Gollum, charred and melting. I am obsessive and full of rage and the source of worry for more people than I care to name. I probably love all the attention, which is probably why I’ve stayed crazy for so long!
Okay, Small-Dani. That line got me. I’m sorry, pal.
But I will not be crazy in this memoir-what-have-you-fuckington. I am funny and adorable, and I have glued doll hair to my feet in order to be the world’s tallest hobbit. Such stories I have! You will not ask me in class anymore if I am okay. No one will wonder whether or not I am in therapy. I will tell you here and now. I am mangled, velociraptors gnaw on my toes in my sleep and I have allowed them. I will not allow anyone to tell me which stories to write or how to write them. Of course, they will be sad. I am sad. My teachers convinced me that I am more than nerdy turns-of-phrase and snarkiness. I appreciate them for it. But now I will convince them that my merit and my worth as a writer is more than the stories that make us worried and that make me cry.
Guys, I wanted to be girl-nerd-Chuck Klosterman SO. BAD. It broke my heart to feel like I was better at being sad than at being funny.
Doll hair glued to my feet! Wood glued! Hilarious!
I… I still don’t want you to read the next part of this. I still have a pact with her, that smaller Dani. And, fuck, an angrier Dani, isn’t she? That’s what I read the most as I look back over these nearly ten year old words. She was so angry. And I guess I was, though I remember the sadness the most.
I am thinking of College Me today, again mostly out of boredom, but also because I think that was the last time that I felt the weight of any kind of isolation. I wasn’t being kept in place physically, but I wasn’t in a place yet where I felt safe to be honest with my friends, let alone spill my guts all over the Internet. I hadn’t discovered stand-up comedy or Write Club, and didn’t know that I was on the road to a glorious intersection of Jokes and Feels. Didn’t know that the two could co-exist, and that I did not have to choose.
For a long time, (and this might shock you), I didn’t really tell anyone what was wrong with me. I would just hope that someone would walk in on me doing the Things That Hurt Me, and they would pour me a Ginger Ale, and tell me to stop.
I still hope for that some days, nights.
When all this is over, I will pour you a Ginger Ale (over ice), and I will tell you whatever you need to hear.
And I guess… not to co-opt a movement or anything, but… hey, Angry College Dani. It does get better. It’s going to stay awful for a really long time, and some weird shit is going to go down, and you’re going to keep doing things that you’re not really proud of, but oh, they made someone else laugh, and that did make you feel proud.
You’re probably going to keep doing that.
Who the fuck writes a memoir at 30, either?
This has never been a memoir, I don’t think. This is just a box of old postcards, Polaroids, sea shells, shoved under my bed, and brought out in the dead of night when I need to remember that I exist, that I ever existed.
I re-read these stories and these essays. They are Proof. I have friends, and I love Star Wars, and I went to London one time, and I have friends, and I look later at my stats, and This is My Love Language.
This story is another postcard under my bed. The weather was awful, and I got a sunburn on the first day, but I picked up a shell and put it in my pocket anyway. Saved it on August 8, 2010, and maybe I was waiting for you to be ready to share it.
(I will get you as many sea shells as you like.)
I started hunting through these old documents because a dear friend posited: How do you think you’ve grown as a writer and a person?
I feel gentler, mostly. I am thinking a lot lately about my Role as an Artist, and I think, for me, it’s about comfort. I want you to feel okay. I want to write words that you can cozy up to with a stuffed animal and a chocolate milk, and I hope you laugh and I hope you feel something only as deeply as you are comfortable. College-Me was trying so hard to be snarky and a certain kind of detached-nerd-cool. Sorry, darling. I am ATTACHED. To all of this, to all of you.
We are isolated, yes, but in some ways (not in great ways, mind: fuck this entire situation), I feel more connected to my friends than ever before. I refuse to let this tank us. So, I’m going to keep texting and obsessing over Facebook and calling you when I go on my walks (my service sucks when I’m inside the house) and I’m going to keep writing here as often as I can.
When all this is over, we are going to sit together beside my bed, and look back on our postcards and our shells.
All of my best snapshots have you in them anyway.