I am self-publishing this book of essays titled the exact same thing as this post heading and I will be sending it out to friends, soon enough. I do not want to self-publish all the work I’ve hoarded over time but this one will have to be done that way. The real collection will have pictures. (Sometimes you can see where I left in picture captions or pictures.) It is so shamelessly boring, and all about me, that I presume no one will read — not without pictures of other people. So those are what I’ll add eventually.
Other notes while I’m here alone. I would need to clean up the word “just” which for now functions like tire spikes that allow a car to get unstuck from a marsh slick with snow — with snow and with slippery, jack-the-rippery, eebie-jeebie creepy mud; it’s actually more like quicksand. When I’m bored and lazy I work on this book. It is how I get unstuck. I think I’m recognizing that some of my work in the past or now is weird or weirdish but other people can decide what weird means to them as we move into the 2020s.
To be clear in case someone assumes I’m weird, as someone with little power who pointed this out about my own work, I am not the first artist to identify something “weird” about the years leading up to now: Taylor Swift made a post at the end of 2020 when I identified a need to write something long and meandery. Her post said “it’s been weird.” Listen to her, she’s got a good rep — e.g. for being sane — and is hard to not listen to because she’s all over the place. Listen to her not to me.
Now for my own purposes in getting this book done I can add: stop giving the mud power. Stop thinking about it! You’ll get swept off your path. Stop imagining all the evil shit in our times that’s probably mixed in the mud, deep. Just got to get out of that mud. Just got to get out of this paragraph, to the next line… trudging. Like a true Minnesotan grr, perhaps — whatever that SHIT means.. grr, gr.. I could write a more formal preface with some nitpicky details on how I came to write the whole thing; I mean — basically I wrote it from procrastination and a complete lack of interest in the subjects I was in a postbac program to learn? But “complete lack of interest” would be hyperbole, and kind of a euphemism; a bit like saying “this is just who I am.. gr.. lazy AF” about something negative in oneself that’s actually, definitely possible to change even if it’s tough. It’s tough to do one’s homework.
I wrote this out of laziness. It wasn’t homework.
Keep in mind I’m probably better at writing screenplays, so those are where any actually-assigned lessons would most likely show up in my lifetime, like if I were to write a scene that portrays mental illness accurately — something along the lines of that one scene in A Beautiful Mind where Christopher Plummer the actor is like ”there is no plot against you.” That would go in a biopic I wrote about someone other than John Nash (played by Russell Crowe); a different scientist.
What scientist, me hee ee? Genius with a currently mediocre GPA [that’s only because I’ve spent all my time writing]. Probably not but this is what I’ll say.
I’ve felt like the world’s against me, and it was a medical issue; delusions and including narcissistic delusions of grandeur. Hallucinations, those happened sort of, in that I imagined I got raped and stuff like that. I actually didn’t, the time I thought I got raped, which is hard to explain but it would go best as noted, in a script. I think — first of all this might be sarcasm — it could make the world better to show other white girls “no honey there is no plot against you….” But it could go better in a film or play, not a book, and maybe I’d want it to be about white boys and not basement dwelling burnouts; like literally successful scientists, Nobel Laureates and stuff. Wait not girls or women? There’s plenty of room for equity in deciding which characters I find heroic but I haven’t decided yet, how to handle these subjects not merely the people affected: subjects-of-trauma and the study of it — nor have I really asked myself, just given my experience so far with these topics, honestly if it’s going to make any difference if I try to make a difference alone? I don’t want to have to face it if the answer is “no, all you’ve done in your life was in vain.” It still feels too intense. Too raw as it were.
Chill, Morgan (I guess just keep working on yourself and your very amateur memoir thing, that tries not to make light of one’s own trauma but also tries to get over it: like patching up a wound). I started writing this memoir thing in September 2020 and finished it about two years later, which means sometimes, you’ll see, I refer to myself as a 27-year-old and later as 28. It actually took over three years to write, since I wove in content from years back. I hope that’s impressive not just depressing.
Either way I feel like this is about my twenties, and what maybe didn’t go so great. But it’s also about the 2020s, and what maybe didn’t go so well. And they’ve hardly begun. It’s a new decade — not a new world; a number of people in history have tried to declare in their own way “it’s a new world” to be humbled, quickly by the slowness of actual progress not perceived, or even declared, progress — ha ha. Not that funny; when a big shot writes history his own way, no one else’s. Ultimately I’m trying to stay in pace with positive momentum for humanity: not for like, technology over humanity. I think when I started writing I decided that I stood for humanism (in crudely simple terms: a worldview definitely probably associated with Western culture and art), but it seems like this may just be because I can’t keep up [financially or otherwise] with the so-called “posthumans.” And that’s not sarcasm; it’s true that I’ve felt I can’t keep up with other people outpacing me, succeeding left and right while I slip down the drain like a lost penny.
So I should look at that and that is my intention; that said I’ll continue to write from my human heart. What else can I even pull off? I can’t keep up as a young woman deciding not to be a performer, and to still be a female writer in the year 2022. I’m trying to be patient with how long it takes to be actually (not merely perceived to be) listened to by other humans, not even just my loved ones on this poor withering dying planet *wah.* RIP Mother Earth. At the same time I’m trying to be assertive about clinging to my story as if it [and not as if I] were a kid, including the parts of it where I recall being silenced needlessly as a younger female person. I still don’t know if I can call it censorship; probably not, in that I’m not a legitimate artist. I’m not a recognized name.
I think that’s been confusing and I become cynical very fast, about what it might take to have people listen at all *wah waah..* literally STFU though? Trying to be a writer has brought out the worst in me, I have to confess off the bat — what a way to introduce a “book.”
Anyway, I’ll add to the intro: from now on rather than cling to a compelling story or even ways of telling one, I’d prefer to cling to my self even if that means letting go of glory and success, or any clear shot at it. It’s a catch-22 because the decisions I’ve made to do that, to cling to my self, look like they’re me going nuts — s’like, whenever my mom freaks out around the house (maybe about being disrespected) and gets all like “this is NOT even what kind of person I am!!” And I’m like hea’right. No, now I get it because I’m growing up and that type of shit runs in the family: I get it and it’s not what I want to have happen. Me-going-nuts is indeed, what happens when I actually lose my self. It’s like a panic.
Who I truly am has little to do with any shells I wear to be safe, even if that means goin’ all Medea on yeh. I’m sorry mom for telling people that you freak out, sometimes. Or for telling people that I disrespect you, sometimes, that’s the more-embarrassing part, probably; it’s a bit complicated in that my growing pains are mixed in with other crossed lines.
Yeah, thanks for reading this far even — mom because you’re the only one who might. (‘It’s boring.”) I think I can come out of my shell around people I love and trust, and if that turns into a sexuality-thing about how “I’m gay or something, now” it still means that I was the same person, or tortoise, under the safety shell before and after.
However it might be true that the interesting styles of shell or science lab goggles I wear these days, would put people off; just because I’m almost aggressively not the same as I used to be. Around you new or old friend (and keep in mind this is actually a project written for friends), I’m afraid I’ve got to keep some strange shields up throughout this project. Maybe you can tell in the voice I take on. I have no reason to trust anyone — I’m still traumatized — by how they self-present; for instance only on the internet, when it’s not a thing how they come across in real life!! 👓 Anyway. Here’s my memoir thing, which as I’ve explained might contain some off-key residue, of who I’ve ever been or tried to be, including the more unbecoming aspects, of me. Keep reading if you wish to but also please remember no one’s forcing you. Like literally no one’s forcing you.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ENVY AND LOVE
Here is the fourth essay in this entire collection of like 10-12 chapters, each kind of focused on one true friend who’s been unconditionally there for me; I’d like to hit them back and *rolls eyes* without “glory, accolades etc” 👓 👓 this is the best I can offer you each, Friends..
Chapter Four: Why everything that’s supposed to bad
When I began on this chapter in 2021 , I’d embraced defeat: I was scared of “artists” honestly, and wouldn’t even mention I was one if I was meeting people who I may or may not ever see again.
I’d tell them I was a premed student and librarian; which is factually correct.
I was scared of visual artists who I must have assumed, without asking about their priorities-as-artists, took some modicum of loveliness in their surroundings and social interactions, every day, for granted in a way that had become foreign to me. Working in a library was nice, aesthetically which (I’m being sarcastic) is the single only reason I considered it nice, but I hustled to get there; before that as noted I’d been a Target Tech saleswoman — a Karen — and the person behind concessions at a rundown movie theater, and, some other gigs on the side. The reason I’m back in school is because my uncle Steve has helped cosign my loans and pay for a lot, including some medical bills. That’s probably TMI.
These were not the jobs I expected after college: I’d probably envisioned something in an office, specifically a media office. The term “media” like “the arts” is a bit indulgent in that covers a massive swath of career paths but, that’s because most people in media are not just writers. My suspicions were then and continue to be that I was not viable material because working in media, these days, means having an internet footprint. It means having clickability. If you’re clickable you’re working in media. By then I’d already acquired a bit of a footprint, and there was dead human skin on it: some art projects I’d done all Han-solo that may not have been what hiring staff wanted to glimpse or if they did it would be laughingly. In that regard I’m not a victim. I am someone who might have partaken in too much unweighed behavior, not really having been taught something different by my parents. I honestly think that I was closer to my dad, living with him, when I was working those “gigs” I mentioned before; maybe it’s because, that’s what he did — he never worked in say, an office above the 6th floor. He did used to work alone on the 6th floor of a building in downtown Minneapolis called The Sexton Building, which is now the Sexton Lofts; he’s always worked in busier if not-yet-ritzier parts of downtown, and lived in Minneapolis, despite the urgings of his father (and actually at one point, of my mom) to move to the suburbs. So that’s kind of been part of his legacy on me; I’m a city girl, a lone soul and maybe an outcast. My dad used to get bullied; I’m not sure he’s open about that.
Since the last chapter was ostensibly for Alex, who I’m not done with in this book, I’d like to make this one for Sienna Cohen instead. She also used to get bullied, and though she may not remember or would pretend she does not, I think I bullied her once. No, it wasn’t the time all three or four of her closest female friends turned on her suddenly and she left school, high school, for an entire half-year (which isn’t normal in high school; it was fucked up). It was just some little thing I said, when I think that I even bullied her: I was critiquing her paintings, believing then I’d be the boss on a small movie shoot and would hire someone I knew to do the posters for my stuff. She’s not a painter per se, but she’s good enough, and we haven’t actually talked since the paintings-thing — Sienna do you remember what I said — except once by email, not because I know that she’s mad at me for this (I also think she’s maybe paranoid too and this is like a “Dear Prudence” scene: she used to spend a lot of time indoors alone, like me). I am bringing it up because I know, now in retrospect, I was going downhill.
That was the beginning of the end, when I was just like saying weird shit to people who have better things to do than listen; or if not always TO people then I was just saying weird shit constantly, in my head.
I literally don’t remember what I said to Sienna but I don’t like that we haven’t talked gone, when she’s someone I used to open up to. I guess, what’s art for if not to break the ice on tense areas of difference, or for that matter indifference. So, quickly and openly I intend to cover some of what happened or changed all at once, on my end — and if I feel like it’s for Sienna it might come across a bit more sensitively than if I just decided “she was so hot,” or something ridiculous, not ridiculous because it’s untrue, no, only because it would be just me parroting all these people at our high school for reasons that remain confusing to me as I hash this out. I don’t know; I guess what I’ll say now is “show some f’ing respect guys, kay.. damn..?” Not that it was ever us versus them.
I do remember being kind of an outsider too: it would be nice to have other people confirm that isn’t some fiction, because it’s not something I’m ashamed of.
Sienna was half-Vietnamese and half-Jewish; another thing we had in common [ha. good joke.] was that she had an older sister who sort of the theater star. (We are all of us half-Jewish — I don’t know the precise percentages, of our Judaisms.) Sienna did a play once, I have no recollection of what play but I remember everyone was like “she was SO good in it.” I thought Jade was the better actress, well, a better performer, but it’s interesting that last I knew Jade Cohen ended up becoming a doctor, or maybe I should say, a doctress. Ahhaahh 🤘 rock rock rock.
C&P new part you’re working on
In Lena Dunham’s first feature film vaguely about being in undergrad as a white girl pre-2010s, called Creative Nonfiction, ___. My understanding is that it was her own passion project which got picked up by The Criterion Channel sometime after Girls; this would situate the making of at the top the gold rush of good-seeming fortune that carried her, as a young creative, from being the daughter of a sort of famous artist to Oberlin to a solid cameo in a Quentin Tarantino flick. By sort of famous artist I mean, I hadn’t heard of Laurie Simmons her mom, but people Lena grew up with probably knew and thus (I imagine but can’t confirm) might have paid artists, fine artists involved in the arts, visual artists too, women artists, at least some due honor and respect; this might be something I pick up on, in a good way I think, in interviews Lena’s done about her creative process and all the measured steps that ever went into a piece of work, including room to try one thing and then another because (I heard Meryl Streep say this once about a Brecht play she was in, and according to the internet, Meryl Streep was someone who Lena’s mom worked with on fine art) “process is messy.” That was a messy sentence; don’t ever assume I’m very smart and I won’t assume, you were privileged, that you had it better than I did and that’s the only one reason you made it, Lena Dunham.
Whatever Lena Dunham put herself through, she got through; I know from a screenwriting professor that Lena was picked up after a BAM showcase, and that Judd Apatow (I don’t know the specifics) had been keeping his eye out for a girl, so not a young male artist: something to do with the actual producing mainstay. Anyway I don’t feel that her art — which she indeed was at the helm of, as a writer and sometimes-director — made the world a worse place. Would I have said that about my own work if it had gotten through; which is a scenario that kind of requires magical thinking on my part, if only just to feel better. I would not have ended up overdosing, probably going downhill worse and worse. Bombing. I don’t actually know, and I can’t guess; I can cease to be resentful because I don’t think I am currently. But I can recognize the dangers that star worship of any kind might actually present, to young people in much different situations without enough context to go by, when they’re trying to be the “next” whoevs: I think I have a protective side and, like Amy Winehouse said she herself possessed a “maternal” side too, honestly. I don’t like to see people just be dragged and dragged.
I’d also have the perspective now as a writer who’s ever attempted [and failed] to leave a dent to wonder if Lena Dunham herself is “a Hannah,” even. It’s got nothing to do with looking the part, or with bringing this upcoming hyphenated term and topic — being-looked-at [insert Laura Mulvey reference]— into any discussion.
I was probably not quite trying to be the next Lena Dunham, but did I watch all her work and consciously try to do things my-own-way, yes: absolutely.
I was younger then, like in the Sondheim song “Someone In a Tree” (since I’m just mentioning all my influences or idols, and Stephen Sondheim is an idol) — I could climb n’ shit, I saw everything — and it’s hard to remember my intentions as 21-year-old artist, especially one who developed a drug problem but was still sharing my work here and there, even if that meant sending it out to all my mentors at Lincoln Center Film, somewhat classlessly, and to a few girl critics, sharing it places it might never have belonged: I think my intentions were to be remembered at all. And that’s it.
To that end (and this might explain what I meant about Lena’s now, definitely-iconic character Hannah), I remember sometimes choosing takes that I thought were “stronger” [and not “younger”] that were stronger not for the reasons a girl would pick a profile pic on Tinder. But in this paragraph I am discussing film and fiction film, not real life. In this paragraph, I am not talking about Tinder either, please be advised. Lena Dunham, when I was a white girl in undergrad, was the writer-director on everyone’s lips; controversial. Not totally beloved in the circles I walked in, as a lower middle class person (a mess at first sight), not even discussed by the men I worked with at Film Comment — but supported by pretty much every famous female person I’d ever either encountered or looked up to. If I could do something differently as a white Jewish girl I thought it would be related to my hot takes on race, and sex, or sexuality: I started writing a screenplay called Black Satin, based on this weird anecdote I knew about how my mom in her thirties and in the seventies had once been a call girl for Miles Davis. I am not sure it’s something she’s open about because it is shameful, for her, the whole story of what happened and the years after; I am sure it’s true. She was younger, when this all occurred.
I actually knew this was the film I wanted to make back when I tried one out in college with a Billie Holiday soundtrack (Miles had a thing for Billie). But Black Satin didn’t work out. Plenty happened — but not a second film shoot for a script, by me.
I do spend a lot of time wondering what it’s like to already be famous and all-the-rest before age 30, as a female — I think some of what I’ve identified, that would be different, is stuff that I could attain just as well as a doctor by twenty years from now, including well, a partner for life. I think if I were a star (and artist) my sex life would be more exciting, and the sexy narrative capital would be something I used in my art, and being unable to f*** for a long time is something that has given me more grief than I’m willing to disclose here, but I guess in the ways of some silver linings gleaned in my prison years, I now think humanitarian work on behalf of women could be done by me as a physician, probably more effectively than me as an artist: I just spend a lot of time writing, because I don’t know how to make friends when I feel like weirdass shit all the time. I’ll be mad at myself if I don’t plot my way into medical school (honestly I’ve made it remarkably far considering what a mess I was when I started after god-knows-how writing the application) [the writing was much worse than now, and I don’t think my writing sounds “human”] (beep beep boop); I’ve already had my share of pitfalls as a student since starting school due to idiocy and laziness — arguably just me not dealing with mental illness, further arguably me just not facing the fact that I didn’t imagine things like men [not on campus but nearabouts] spitting as I walked past in my weirdass queer clothes; maybe it’s also because I looked like a mess, a way without overthinking on their part of saying “you can do better” which is true, I know it is, but I also could do better in school and I only have so much energy per day. If I decide it was only mental illness I’ll build a good case, looking at my own symptoms. The facts. What I can begin-to-say for myself, before I build a good case that doesn’t sound idiotic, is that the idiocy was always genuine, including that moment I made a video ranting about idiots: a mad girl’s rant. Picture me wincing as I clarify the following, because it’s a bit like “why’d you think to say this Morgan.. creep” (I have paranoia that lots of real writers, real artists with active sex lives, on the internet, think I am a creep and actually would campaign about it in their gossip rings): I am not becoming an OBGYN, I should say since I began to mention medical work on behalf of women.
I was serious about doing that, how else would you do it [?] in a post-Roe landscape (there are lots of ways, one way might be trauma work), but I am friends with someone who wouldn’t appreciate that joke about me-even-if-I-were-becoming that — that’s actually kind of creepy and I hope that someone who went in there in their heads would question their chains-of-associations: this is real life, here now, as I write this feeling exhausted as shit about how these kinds of misogynistic incel meme-style jokes, be them about pregnancy or looking pregnant when you’re not — or about any great-even-legendary female artist’s body or I guess I can say their entire sex life not the guy’s sex life, have become commonplace online if I’m not totally off base and it’s getting worse (I only know because I’ve been at the butt end) [I think it made me go nuts!]. The friend’s traveled to
Now onto the question which I feel is important of whether I’ll be a female doctor, as opposed to female artist (which is indeed what I used to be), or what. The last time I had to confront this head-on was out with some other premeds; a guy I’ve gotten to know said “Morgan, whether your gay, non-binary, whatever I’m happy to serve as a wingman”; he knew that by then I’d tried the pronouns “they” because he sat by me once when we had to pass around a form identifying each of ourselves. [finish this paragraph, finish first paragraph about Creative Nonfiction]
You have to change gears — how can you make it feel like reading again
Need like, transition an actual scene right here
[actually talk about the Tarantino film] [already wrote this part but I’d add]
[then actually talk about the Dunham film]
I have said this book is for friends, the ones I could contact, but I’m going to allow myself to shift gears for a second and talk about a non-friend named Hope.
Uh oh. This is dangerous territory because I can’t say who Hope is — why should I. But it’s true I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve been powerless and financially strapped for long enough in their lives, by the time they meet a life partner, that the marriage ends up lasting. They don’t break up; maybe it’s hard sometimes. Like really hard. Usually if they break up it’s because of a bad affair that they just couldn’t get past, it is too hard. I am starting to believe my sister wasn’t wrong, that I would get better health-wise — from my own woes and lows. My own woes and lows were not really related to being wronged by lovers; if anything I was the wronger, breakin’ boys hearts. I guess when you have sex with people, someone gets hurt. I don’t know if that’s a gendered thing, but say if it were, then I can see how Sex in the City and Girls and all these like, sex shows starring women were actually, well, *scared to say this word because it’s gone out of style* feminist. It is feminist because if guys are the only ones who “get” to be the wrongers then they have a lot more power and women have much less.
But what about people who just are lucky to have anyone hang out with them! (Can I get, a woop. I don’t get one.) For them, the people with no friends and no sex life, no matter if they’re girls or weird creatures like me, feminism is becoming all blurred in some dense potpourri with all these other, like, all these other — wait. Is it okay for me to say potpourri if I’m not French, I honestly thought it was an Indian thing and then I had to Google and..
Cancelled, 40 points from Gryffindor.
You’ve been fuckin’ up soo bad for soo long, Morgan — that Slytherin’s going to win the Hogwarts cup. Literally stoppp. Now I know you all are wondering: is Hope [??] in Gryffindor or Slytherin or what.
Ravenclaw? Sometimes there are some hot girls in Ravenclaw. *AAH. 20 points gone.* I didn’t say Slytherin but if I had they wouldn’t have reported me! So I went to the dungeons. And I got my dick sucked *AAH. 50 points for that one.* Sorry, no maybe she’s from that other school. The one where the girl-from-there almost drowns, that school. I can’t even remember what it’s called—but to be clear I am not from Durmstrang!! I am just Gryffindor, I’m not a house elf either!! Don’t treat me like that please.
I’d have to ask Hope, when she’s okay and I’m okay. I’ll ask!!
What house you from. Anyway, my sister promised—I thought she was just trying to be nice, when she said I’d “get better,” like when you feel bad for someone, but maybe her belief in me was really sincere. I am Neville Longbottom.
Like him I can still be something. I am also starting to think I might be more than gay, a real humdinger who if I were to be remotely well-known would be spit on — I’ve already spit on myself, maybe I was practicing so I’d be ready? — and I don’t see how my family just doesn’t see that (they don’t see that I’m, a fucking freak). It doesn’t make sense to me how this happened, but I write about what doesn’t make sense because, I don’t know.
It’s really intense: what we’re dealing with, here. Even when I’m talking to people I know, I usually kind of skirt around the truth, the truth is fucked. I don’t tell anyone I might be more than gay. I didn’t even realize it until I had to confront it, and I don’t (like actually I don’t) think I was born this way. So that’s all confusing. It is something I’d be terrified to write about if I didn’t know that people still aren’t reading.
Good news is, with Hope things make sense. Everything makes sense with her!!
I saw Justin Bieber say that about Hailey in his Instagram post announcing that he had proposed to her. Well, Hope better wait.. if she marries someone else then I will too, and that’s, not complicated.
Right? That’s not a threat either. I followed that whole love-and-loss narrative as a Selena Gomez fan even though I started with JB and, I do think Justin’s amazing and I am honored to have gotten to grow up with that kind of psychotalent freak star as my generation’s patron saint; it’s just something to be kind of like “ayo” about: luckily, he found someone who he could I think feel protected by because the world will never get enough a’ him — and I like the music. Let’s keep him well and safe! Hailey seems cool.
As an artist: I probably am mainly a fan of Selena because — so-am-I about this next thing, she’s a film gal (so she’s not just a performer, she is an actress, who’s good; it’s more subtle, watch Wizards of Waverly on Youtube and try to see what I mean) [she ALSO has to be a performer for her work, though: so she’s beyond a triple threat, there’s like seven other threats happening to her that no one sees every second], oh and I’ll add that, I can’t say that I believe in soulmates. If I did then Selena would be one of mine. She’d be one of my soulmates.
Ubfortunately were to look in the comments section of any post she or a team member of hers has ever made, online, I’d be like “oh! dang, a lot of people think, she’s their soulmate.” How would she ever be able to tell if she met one, when she has a trillion already.
But yeah — the Justin Bieber life story and all the events leading up to his album Changes is one way I came to conclude, painfully, that soulmates must not exist. He was just SO sure she was the one. I guess “the one” is not the same as soulmates? Does this matter? I can’t, and I don’t think so.
She wasn’t the one.
All his lyrics were the same throughout his career, which is interesting. I believe though, in relationships that people decide to stay in: maybe for religious reasons or whatever.
I don’t have to explain that I’m a girl who used to be super straight, who ended up non-binary but who in a very medical sort of white world still hides it, because around Old World East Coast people (who tend to be the ones in medical school, out East) [I don’t know if they tend to be white, but yes] it just doesn’t fit into their social vocabulary unless the person’s a performer of some sort; it also honestly is kind of directly correlated with the progression of my illness — and homosexuality historically has been seen as an illness and it makes sense why (it’s not like inconceivable, to me, as someone who’s begun to take classes on how these diagnoses are developed: people get off track, you want to help them). I don’t even tell people I’m gay as a matter of fact. It’s not that hard to hide my sort of masculine trollish face under a mask because most people still have one on hand for protection from Covid-19; so I wear mine when I can. It is a unique face, kind of a sick person’s face. Probably wouldn’t be that same face, if it weren’t for meds and some side effects of poorness and all the rest. I can modulate my voice, also a unique thing I have; if I were in England I’d take elocution. (Having voice problems can be seen as an illness, and can actually, often be fixed.) And I dress like a guy, who happens to have boobs but who’s disfigured — on Zoom calls, I can hide that if I want to! I wish I’d never been pretty, and told so by guys with very high standards who had decent bodies, which is a weird thing to say (right?), just like masculine guys though who I wasn’t scared to see naked or for that matter to have sex with (if we did), that they wanted me to be their long-term person, because then I just, wouldn’t have known. I wouldn’t have known the difference between then and now.
I wouldn’t have known how bad this is. And honestly how hard!!
Now for the question you actually might be wondering, if you’re one of my readers therefore someone who knows me and is generous with their time. Are you [Morgan] okay?
Well, I want to answer this one honestly because I think the previous section (before the section dividers showed up, “…” I fell asleep) might have been written in a state of psychosis; but if I start pointing at all trans or trans-ish people, or at all artists, and saying “you’re a psycho!” then I will honestly just be a hypocrite. On the other hand maybe I am. I am diagnosed with bipolar, at first version II of it — I got twooo verssions *that’s a Frank Ocean reference* [of whom I am a loyal fan, even envious as shit: like, this guy’s life] — then last year they switched me to version I, and that’s true. It is also true that I agreed, given all that I know about treating bipolar and what you can observe from a patient’s response to medication, that this was the correct diagnosis. I was actually relieved that I had bipolar, not something else; that said it’s not exactly the best news ever. Maybe if I could have, I would have settled for just Generalized Anxiety Disorder or something. Oh well; also that’s something you can’t really know for absolute 100% certain, both your diagnosis and whether you’d rather be something you’re not. I’m not that anxious of a person.
The truth is I wrote that last section late at night, after a hard long day of just-creative work as opposed to school work, and when I woke up in the morning after tossing and turning from dark epiphanies or episodes about the arts and about Hope (she’s, fine) and propaganda and history repeating itself, I finally got in some shut-eye and really felt by the actual morning: “yeah you were just not doing well last night, not that correcting what you wrote is worth anyone’s time. I just don’t think Hope is or will be anything but a trope.” I first came up with this idea of “Hope” my future wife while writing a book last summer; also probably, done in a manic state, messed-up.
I don’t want to ignore the details on how these pipe dreams came about because last year, after that, I did end up kind of going downhill mentally.
I do just write all the time and lose a TON of stuff, some of it might be good but then, it’s gone so no use dwelling.
Said and written dreams though. They come about in states of self-delusion about what’s even plausible. It is conceivable that I’d rub shoulders with Hope but not plausible.
What I can say in the way of what’s aggravated me deeply and made me actually cry like a girl totally, or like a goblin, is that men who are acting not merely like psychotic people (say, who might be deluded about their talent) but who are acting like psychopaths, very masculine men with money, can sleep with whomever they want and also be successful artists, and not a soul points a finger at those men and says “you’re a psycho.” It is plausible for them to get it in, even in some bizarre cases. The women they sleep with often identify as feminists. It is more feminist to sleep with them, than to point a finger at them and say you’re a psycho — or you’re doing bad art, it, hurts, people, maybe not YOU and your guys — for reasons I barely touched on earlier around when I said, sort of jokingly, that feminism has gone out of style.
When I said that — “feminism has gone out of style” — I thought of the hospital scene in the decent Julie Taymor film Frida, my favorite after Titus, not the Beatles film of hers.
Now, I’m not here to build a case against anyone; I think losing touch with the truth or getting disconnected from it just causes people their own harm. A little over a week ago, so before I barely revised this passage, we all saw the overturn of Roe v. Wade. This is an event in history now that my generation of women can say, they lived through; what a thing to be proud of. (Sarcasm?) I can’t speak for men but I’ve actually heard a lot of men be supportive because it’s really just like — the whole truth is under siege by the Supreme Court. By the truth I mean the truth and not what you want to believe.
I am not beautiful, some not including my sister (who lies to be nice so I told her to stop) would say I am hideous. Do I have proof. I will say though how meritocracy is something I don’t mind, and it’s one reason I stay around academia as long as I have the choice. I also think some women artists are pretty [I might want to watch what I say here, am I getting off track? But yeah..] (prettiness could easily be a form of meritocracy because, it is what men notice in a casting call; it is at least one thing they notice, I know because I’ve spoken to any straight man ever helping cast his film that he wants to come out well) [the arts arts, like the fine visual arts, are probably harder core? I know nothing about those “casting calls” to get in and rub shoulders] and these women artists get hit on a lot — and sometimes it is the reality, of their circumstance, that if they point fingers, women’s careers will suffer or get fucked up. There’s also this; it happens so often that it isn’t some big deal, and also, sometimes it feels good.
So they can either fuck or have their whole careers fucked. What would you choose!! Your integrity of course. But if you don’t fuck you might end up like Morgan Wilcock (who used to work in film, and learned she couldn’t quite be an actress) [maybe she could be something else].
Do you know what happened, to Morgan Wilcock, do you want to end up like her. Have you seen her lately that is?
Noo. I’d fuck, and be good at it unlike her Jk awahaa — I’d develop mental faraday cages to keep my true self safe; that’s a physics joke from your author. And I’d start developing dreams in manic states late at night when I do happen to be alone about finding a man who protects me, so that I don’t have to live in this metaphorical faraday cage all the time. It sucks.
But that’s a paradox because the dream-of-him itself is part of what makes up the faraday cage: no person in real life is anything but another person’s version of them. Even one’s own self is that, technically somewhat. That can actually diminish a great person into someone lesser; that’s one thing I have to be careful about, because I’ve gotten bullied intermittently. (An aside: my weight’s gone up and down, it is one thing I’ve taken flack for because I’ve definitely been overweight.) For a lover I’d want a protector who is not psycho and I’d want not just to get laid intermittently; like until a man gets bored of me. Someone I can trust. Last thing I’d want is someone who I feel more not less like myself around, because they see good things about me that I don’t see in my self. I’ve always thought, or actually dreamed about, how nice it would be to be with someone who writes and writes unselfishly. Maybe they’d “do me well,” mh: to ride the wave of that pun, I think good sex is something that comes with openness so you can like, actually say truthfully whether you’re into something whatever-it-is.
Sex about power, is real. The status quo is probably something I’d actually want to deconstruct a bit, in films if I make them, while reminding myself of the maybe-weird statements I’ve already made about “meritocracy”; isn’t there a Lana del Rey song about how she fucked her way to the top? I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t a lie. But, didn’t a poet named Rachel Rabbit White actually do that and it’s definitely confirmed, that she fucked her way to the top? Does this count as meritocracy, I mean it’s real. She made it with her sex life.
I’d probably like to do films that recognize how trauma and mental illness are old pals: so calling someone, anyone, mentally ill as I’ve had compounded into my own story, could become a vie for control — one that works, I really got used to being kicked around and shocked up on meds; I should be dead, from that — but then again if it’s the right diagnosis then maybe you’re just doing your patient well to really talk about it openly. Would you rather be dead or a loony tune freak who thinks they’re a great artist, who sucks at art and is gross, because, apparently given all those bloody brushes with death in my twenties (when I wasn’t a great artist, and that’s pretty much confirmed) I’d rather be dead. I was around great critics, and Lola Morgan didn’t pass their litmus test for success. I guess she didn’t die but in the tome I wrote that used to contain a character named Lola, she died. I just changed the name and I’m working on rewrites, which should keep me busy for years; there are too many jokes about all the people in New York writing novels they never finish, to drop one here. Make of the Lola life story what you will; it’s absolutely factual that people in real life used to call me that, for years, and I don’t correct them if they do it now even though I’m like “at the end of my book she died.” Perhaps Lola came back from the dead on Gossip Girl, suuuper creepy. I don’t really want to talk about that because I do not see myself as a victim: not for any reason other than that, I have no proof that it was a big deal. It just hurt my feelings that someone would take my idea, maybe. I have no proof it was “taken.” It is certainly not, like, karma or the universe teaching me a lesson though. I say that last sentence, firmly, so I can keep sane not gaslit by people who I’m not a victim of, because if I were actually, then it would be too hard to stom
I have written a lot about it on my own time, kind of like how I’m writing now but a little less coherently; not that this is my finest writing but I feel sane enough today to get some words down.
It’s fine, I’m fine. Basically I’m open to separation of art and science, e.g. mental health science! And separation of art and criticism. If they get all potpourri’ed then systems go corrupt.
For me it might become different, if I’m lucky and if I become a doctor who still writes or even does film-stuff, and, if I become actually good at science, too (in the field I end up in): but that doesn’t mean it should be different, for every body. I don’t think it’s unrealistic that I could have a career that allows me to do all that I indicated in this little paragraph; if I get something like that, in this life, I’ll have fought for it and I’ll have lived out my plausible dream.
Anyway, back to pipe dream land. As a doctor not just writer I would try to do the same, for Hope!! I’d try to do her well in the ways I knew.
Hold up, slow down. I’m not sane anymore; you’re not having sex with Hope. How can I get back to sanity.
Any dreams of good sex with a star sound very very, insanely idealistic if you ask me the author, because, I am not that kind of girl; in my lived experience I’m not. Have I rubbed shoulders with stars, yeah. In my lived experience I have, actually (that’s the truth): I think this book gives some examples of that happening, not every single time it ever happened. But there was never a question in hell, about whether this was platonic, whether the walls would fall and suddenly I’d be fucking Woody Allen! A little sexual tension is cool and I listen to it, to learn about myself: even if I don’t want to, I mean wow. But I am not that sexual of a person like every second of every day; I dress like hell, for instance, lol. It’s not funny and I wrote about this in chapter 3. You should see some of my outfits: to give some indication of how bad, I’ve actually had nightmares about other people’s reactions.
I am not laughing but people have said things out loud, like, on the streets, they’ve said in-so-many-words, what in the fuck, are you wearing. Ick.
Last time this happened, for what felt like the tenth time where I live up just near Harlem, I was like “they were picking on me,” and my mom was like “no, they were saying you could do better.” That’s when I realized she was correct. Woop. If I wanted a guy to come onto me, for some reason, god-not-ever-willing because I wanted sex sex sex all night, I might just dress well for our date.
That’s not complicated to me, but I sense a bit of strain in my voice as I write this, which might go away if I weren’t in a room and on a blog alone and if I were out somewhere being humbled by society or by Twitter.
In my experience I find guys who could have been great [artists of some unique-ass breed], and something goes amiss and then I cry, and I choose my own art because what or who else do I do. It is just really who I am and my lived reality (and a privilege that I’ve lost for times that I wanted but maybe didn’t deserve to just get; I fought for it back), to always choose my work like that: honestly I’d choose my own art over crying — and there is nothing wrong with choosing crying, seriously; it’s just not for me I’ve learned the hard way — even if it were bad art that I was doing, like the stuff I did on drugs that came out a mess or hurtful to people I know. Not harmful but it hurt their feelings. At least it was mine; or it was Lola’s I guess.
I chose that over guys who were like, on my side, and would have kept me straight. Off the drugs. I don’t know if they’d have kept me on or off meds.
Unfortunately there is not some magic standard [for all you prudes and pussy cats] that demonstrates that doing art sober makes it better. There’s a lot of art done in history to counter that.
I can think of one example from our times: a lot not quite all of The Weeknd’s art which he has admitted to doing high, is incredible and in my view sometimes-actually great writing. Some of the lyrics just alone!!
I will pause to recognize, not for the first time in this project, that I keep using the word “art” a bit haphazardly in that “art” for artists can really refer to stuff that goes in museums. I think it’s hard to get that, to merit that.
I am sober and doing better currently. But, am I that kind of boy (as opposed to girl) now, who like The Weeknd would get-to-have good or TERRIFIC sex, really, isn’t that a bit extreme Morgan?
More relevantly to my Hope!! Is it realistic.
Noo, I am not that experienced, that is tooo extreme, and why are you using italics and bold and caps, chill, that’s what my first ex said to me, “why does it have to be so extreme” “we’re not meeting anymore!!” — and Morgan who used to make love to guys, uncomplicatedly-straight [cis] male guys [not always white cis male guys], literally are you copping “real” trans people who know they are trans people’s struggles, ultimately just, what the fuck??
She’s lost her fucking mind, it’s obscene.
I’ve got time, to go over this some more. (No, no — I don’t I should be doing Physics–) *stop* Let’s get into it.
Benny Safdie, a famous co-director of mainstream films who sometimes acts, sort of beloved in my generation, was going to study physics but switched to film; I am the reverse in all ways of his brother Josh and himself. My older sister is the smarter one, and if we do a film I’d be the one with a cameo as a trans character, not her. Another way I’m a reverse is that I wasn’t a sincerely great film artist by age 25. That’s the age at which Chantal Akerman (a less famous director but regarded among film critics as an auteur, a huge deal to film gals who do their history reading on how big of a deal this person was), made a masterpiece, a film that’s probably saved lives but/and/which is boring as fucking hell. It is boring — unless you are really in the mood to be brought back in touch with women’s real, lived reality. Then it’s like, a cure for being out of touch with it: with what? I guess though, just the truth for women or girls. I should add, white girls. I could add, Jewish. Who’s making films about the real lived reality, which reflects that reality in the form of the work, a not-always-so-pretty reality, that of course changes in each decade. Not anyone since Chantal Akerman, that I know of: if I had to say the closest thing, I’d go out on a limb and say Lena Dunham.
But Lena hasn’t made a film or show, in years; just podcasts. I know that Caroline Calloway (who I still like, too, even though she’s listed I think on Jewishwomen’s.org as an antisemite to watch out for) prefers podcasts because they are harder for the press to misconstrue. She — we’ll say each girl — was a big deal in the 2010s, and as I’ve gone over in depth, I wonder if I regarded her resentfully, partly out of envy, not entirely out of envy. One thing each can say for herself that I can’t, is that she made history and it wasn’t all bad.
The last time I talked to Alexandra, we both kept having to be like, “wait I hope you didn’t say that [possibly maybe even a little microaggressive thing] because you think this about me.” In other words we kept having to check our own paranoia, sort of mutually: it sounded like a spoof of Francis Coppola’s Conversation. I would never do anything to hurt her, not even take distance intentionally; I just think we do have to recognize how different we are, including how different our backgrounds are. It’s a fluke that we both are women interested in comedy filmmaking, although I don’t think I’m interested in comedy films as much as I intend to be serious if I come up with one really memorable and good piece of art (before I die — a very dramatic “goal” to set, truly something I expect no one ever except maybe like one true soulmate to understand) [I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Alex were involved as an close friend and positive motivating force in my life]. My sister Alexis, who has a similar name to my best girl friend’s name, by contrast has the same background dating back to childhood. But once we hit our twenties, I ended up the mentally ill one. That’s a painful source of envy you could say: though, oddly, I feel like “envy” is the wrong way to put what I feel toward her — it is only partly envy, then there’s something else. What do I feel? If it were just-envy my love would eclipse that when shit got real.
I do trust her, definitely by now, and so the shoutout to Alexis here serves the following purpose: it’ll help me explain my sexual identity crisis — I’ll start by explaining myself to her, my literal older sister. Then I’ll come full circle. I’ll stop avoiding my other female friends, or I’ll try to.
I don’t really know where to situate the start of my circle on this page, so I’ll set the backdrop way far back behind everything. Christmas at Grandpa’s new house, where grandma lost her mind and died — a few years ago. Sorry if how I laid out the setting is too blunt for Alexis’s own preferences; in my view that’s definitely what happened in clear, concise terms.
Ch five: They ruined my fun
Throw back to about ten years before our last Christmas, together, with grandma Judy: the year Nick came and met her. Nick is my sister’s boyfriend of several years, who after a bit of deliberation she’ll be leaving soon. He knows this, and I think it can help me explain why I got so mad at Hope. So mad that I was like, “I’m going after Hopeless.” (Hopeless is another girl.) It was all projection of rage against my dear sister in real life!! Keep in mind that Hope is imaginary, just something that I think gives me a good reason to live and do fine.
Ten years before, we’d gone to New York and seen August Osage County and Gypsy — I was very young, but not that young and in retrospect I think my fanhood for Laura Benanti was almost certainly pre-lesbian. She appeared naked in the show (almost). There was a very well-acted scene in that, almost more like a play scene it was so raw, in which Gypsy Rose Lee—totally part of what influenced my whole Lola Morgan phase; my drag queen phase—tells her mother to fuck off! But she doesn’t say fuck off , she says “it’s my life.” I don’t remember the precise dialog but yes. Extremely powerful and I was impressionable and had that abusive Jewish mom, named Rose herself. (Lol. Get money.) You can see how I was affected. I was kind of weird though, duh but back then it would have been less obvious that I was weird, I did well socially among my peers so I had to keep this shit a secret: my favorite song was actually that stupid lamb song. I was probably too old to have that be my favorite track. Don’t even look it up it’s embarrassing.
Arguably Alexis got the brunt of the theater mom abuse, being that she was the performer between us two. But let us remember: I got into Columbia, and that takes one abusive mama. Like literally though, do you know the fucking odds. So I’m like an academic star girl. It’s because of my abusive mom.
Not really, I was just smart but she did have this pride about her two kids that was almost a bit violently spiteful unto others. It made it harder to fail, because I think my sister and I took care of her by succeeding. That’s probably an easy way to put it, and it is oversimplified; but we both have talked about it, how there is a complicated boundary between our success (or non-success) and what our mom wanted from us. Alexis also had some extremely awful experiences and auditions in theater. She went to a show camp called Stagedoor where Lea Michele, Beanie Feldstein, Skylar Astin (who looks good, we all agreed when watching the Tony’s) and many a major star all went. I’d be in the audience, at that circus. I actually was super confident back then, and it’s probably because my mom helped me on that one. She helped-sort-of thresh out someone unique who didn’t give that much of a fuck, but always tested in the highest percentile (Alexis too) on statewide aptitude tests for youth, and who was athletic. Alexis was a pretty good dancer, not sports athlete, ballerina indeed, and that’s how she ended up in some of the dancier more coveted shows at Stagedoor Manor featuring a star. She was good but what always got her, my mom said and one evil adjunct theater teacher from Juilliard, was her acting. She didn’t do vulnerability well or something. I took one acting class at Barnard, not competing, and was good (definitely untrained) — that’s why I did that dumb Dark Lady Blues film and changed my name to Lola Morgan, not legally ever, thinking of all the fabled tales I’d heard of people with less ring to their names deciding to change theirs. I’ve said in the past [I guess in case someone saw] that I was imitating Woody Allen, who changed his name: I think that was a bit embellished maybe to get people’s attention, perk their ears up, but it’s true Diane Keaton changed her name too, from Diane Hall, and it is true in one of my emails to Woody I was like “I don’t know what my name is going to be!” I like listed some other names at the bottom, besides Morgan Wilcock. Girl names. My mom actually acknowledged that Lola Morgan is sort of a trashy-sounding name; at one time, back when it ever seemed like it would have mattered, iI’d have agreed and said, it’s part of the joke. But I have become aware in literal years of creative work, practicing in a ho, that what I find funny, not always in a bad way but in a self-deprecating way, isn’t funny to others or doesn’t land—just not quite. This isn’t how it always was; in high school when I was normal my jokes landed. I don’t know if it’s necessary here to clarify my “stance” on Woody Allen, besides that you won’t find me defending him but also probably not deleting all the pieces I wrote that used his name in them; I didn’t really meet him—I’m just like, okay I definitely grew up (in my later teens) really studying those films, la di da, moving on.
Caroline Calloway started taking flack at some point for posting all these messy ass pics, of her like just kicking it in bed, eating watermelon right from the green shell and stuff. I got really defensive on her behalf; I was like why does this bother people so much? It is hard to tell when I started getting defensive of her, and I am actually happy [not in a creep way?] to say that I think it’s a little too complicated to know: maybe a lot of my weird behavior in late 2021 regarding the end of Lola, including whatever I wrote about Caroline, was not really about me. Was it about my sister? To me it was just, normal life; the messiness that Caroline (who’s been nicknamed many things, Caro, Carcal) kind of accidentally left in some of her posts, but I understand that a lot of her fan base is British so there might have been some culture clash about what’s acceptable to share publicly. We don’t need a blo( about what you eat and stuff.
It is time now instead to defend the antisemite Caroline, Calloway — only in order to explain my defensiveness about mental illness around my sister Alexis who her boyfriend now ex nicknamed Lex and it (like a lot about who she is now) will probably have stuck, like a spitball—no, more like a kiss. It is not all bad and I liked Nick, though I may have felt self-conscious around him and avoided them. Since we’re talking nicknames I will ask that Alexis or my mom cease to call me “Morg,” because I just think it’s too goofy, with me as this dogged boy girl thing now. Please stop. It just isn’t, like, ironic and cute anymore: the way it was when I was a tomboy. It is creepy to me. Don’t call me that and get your head out of your ass, show some sensitivity. Can’t you tell, when I get miffed. I don’t even like saying “miffed” because I think a better word would be aggravated. I’m already in this fucked up formless figure with messy hair and probably like adult acne; god knows how much of it is from the meds, or poor self-care, but I really do try to live my life in a way that doesn’t feel pathetic. And still I feel pathetic. So don’t call me “Morg” it just isn’t landing. If you disagree then maybe it’s a question of subtlety.
It actually reminded me though of how my sister would sometimes sort of get toward me, privately, when I was definitely a mess. It’s not like Alexis keeps a super clean house; cleaner than my room sure. But around each other, to in-my-words now sum up our dynamic quickly (and honestly to flag a weak spot, where some distrust might infiltrate the trust lockdown we’ve developed), there’s never been a Q that I’m watching her each move and judging, and it’s either because I’m not judgmental, or because she’s just objectively more well-adjusted and that well-adjustedness sort of outlasts my own skepticism that her concern when she asks if I’ve eaten or something is not merely bitchiness.
I don’t know, occasionally though I think it’s more sinister. I think it’s sinister that she’s able to look at me and how clearly, visibly, obviously a change has taken place in the past several years in her sister, probably always against my will — and is still able to just be like “Morg how you doin’ !!” And I’m like “eh guhh.” (I shrug, make some weird ass expression and can’t wait to go home honestly; I kind of always am straining to go home, when I’m with others, and I wish that would change.) Still in however many hours I just spent with Alexis I will have had to admit that she was a good influence simply by how clear it is that her more stable ways of life, including three meals a day and a 9 to 5, plus a boyfriend (and dog which her boyfriend got her) back home, have done her better. Positive peer pressure, don’t you think. Too bad there’s no universe that would allow me to get there, to where she is, after all I’ve been through. The literal scars on my face, and frame. How do you think I feel. How do you think Nick feels, toward our family? I’m not actually asking you to consider that; as I said it’s too late. I am half trans.
Let’s pretend for a second that I was joking, before I dropped the three dots (“…”). I’m still the old me who was a girl and normal, good looking. In a different version of what I wrote I’d have gone for the throat less, because I think part of what allows Alexis to be a good influence is just agreeing [because this is true, bitches] that anyone is lucky to be around her, me or whomever the f. She’s annoying sometimes but lovely and if you were around her, that would make sense—I can’t speak for everyone, but perhaps envy is actually immaturity, or even internalized misogyny that I can examine and let go of; it’s misogyny from me because she got to be a girl. Now I hate her for getting to be a girl. It’s unnecessary resentment.
This book is meant to move things along in my life, not hers which will move along whether I’m here or in hell. Ugh. There is that attitude. Anyway I’ve gone over this but the idea to direct with my sister sort of came about after a difficult phone call, one that I distinctly remember was difficult for me because I was kind of like “how can people be so lolly gaggy, literally I don’t have time to wonder whennnn I mighttt direct—” (obviously it’s more complicated, like if you don’t want to get evicted and just so on and it never ends) [but, one good thing about feeling like an outcast or in some ways even marginalized and I am talking about myself, is that you literally never expect systems to work for you and it makes you hustle; otherwise your dignity takes a dent]. Alexis would choose her integrity over her dignity but might not have time to listen to me explain why I ever chose my dignity first; I’d be like “who’s taking it from me, assuming their integrity is all fucking pristine.” On the phone she was basically like well I don’t want my name attached to something that isn’t even any good at all. But she said, this has been true for a while, I want to learn more about all that goes into making films and so on. Me in response griping like a bat, and I am talking about her, “okay but like I care too much to just give over my shit to someone, who ruins it!!”
The conversation included this line, from her, delivered like a bomb, at least a good and not dirty bomb: “well we could direct, together.” I was like okay I can live with that and I think ever since then we’ve been waiting for me to write it, and she knows but is doing just fine in her job, and I’ve been putting school first because I developed an interest in school that only came about after it looked like I might lose the good opportunity that school is. It should keep my integrity in tow after my basest humanity; of course over time I’ve come to question this institution, Columbia, and what it stands for, but, I like to also think I’ve held them accountable on a base, gross grassroots level or, from a guerrilla point position.
They’ve never stifled my voice, even when it wasn’t hitting, and elsewhere (pretty much everywhere, elsewhere) I’ve felt that happen and suspected it was because people don’t like women or something. It’s a big school for protecting first amendment rights and not the Elon Musk version of what that means; like the real version. People here have studied the shit out of free speech.
It is also something I can sort of keep my own. Anyone can make a film or help screenwrite, not everyone can get into an Ivy and do well there, and I might not feel so stifled socially in medical school compared to Columbia, wherever that ends up being: my grades aren’t good enough for it to be here. I don’t know if this matters to write down; if only to encourage myself. It’s not anyone else’s problem, or choice, and I don’t know why I should clarify that about school. Probably to explain why I declined your invitation to a book burning party the other week, and then the next week I declined your invite to an orgy among pretentious people [at Oxford]. I’m explaining why I still detect in myself a bad attitude about how my sexy films didn’t work out: I submitted them places and just, ugh (“weird girl.”). Perhaps they weren’t sexy enough! Like actually though.
Since Alexis doesn’t want to waste her time, my new scripts are less just about drugs and prostitutes: they aren’t like The Weeknd’s first album [Trilogy] or something, which I used to listen to while writing scenes.
I also used to write to Sia. I was in recovery myself and I have to say.. Sia, thanks. Justin Bieber too, I also would admit now the sort-of unbearable lightness of it was something I sought out. While I’m having extremely creepy ass fun in this paragraph I’ll mention that week I’d get up literally blackout-early to dance a bunch of times to Post Malone “Rockstar” (I was trying to get some scenes just right). I don’t know if it was actually that fun, weird a little sure.
When I’m all torn up about something usually I think of what my dad would say.
Like just really frank statements like “well he’s not beating her up or anything” “he seemed kinda gay or something..” only if someone actually was. About the *paraphrasing* “I’m a tranny now” thing he would probably just be like “wait didn’t you say you were gay” and “you just can’t seem to make up your mind” and I’d take that as a green light to be in a relationship where I can dress pretty much like a guy-or-something but probably never get, like, surgery: that is too much I’d be a freak. If I told him about some guy I HATED he’d probably just be like move on (I guess), you never even liked him (did you? No)—and I literally would consider that good advice. He is not much of an advice giver but I’d be like “hm.” This is that true feminism. I could point out that I haven’t had a single successful relationship since passing adolescence despite having options and that my depression has gotten worse, then maybe I could wonder if there’s some valence to the gay thing. I’ll just use the word queer and give myself some room to be serious about what to me always seemed like a community I’d never quite fit in with, as much as a literally more conservative straight old school world [I did not say white Old World], where I’d have just-been straight to pass through undetected (no one would have noticed me) if that plan hadn’t gone awry, yes even me, or maybe that’s what makes me me; me who shouldn’t fuck around with that world (it’s scary, when you get into the nitgrits, and now I am scary, that’s what I get for just “staying in” and not pulling weight), because I don’t like feel comfortable at all with sex, my own body—whatever, I’m not comfortable with my lunky frame let alone with some spin-off of the sixties free love. I am not being critical just self-aware.
You know who else were probably gay? Homosexual. Not whatever else terms. This is something I would say not my father but it’s true—like, I’m not the first to say this or even study it. The Nazis were.
Rather than get my hands dirty there (look up Ernst Röhm, bro I’m serious) I’ll just, let you assume that I’m a far right Christian who’s saying that to persecute gay people, and women NOW. Moving on.
My dynamic with Taylor if I were to guess is that she’d see me as lame (I make this assumption based on the imagery in her video for “ME!”) [I think the lame guys, look like me] and then I’d prove that I’m not lame and I wouldn’t do so with violence. But that’s a total approximation of the truth.
It’s an approximation because I don’t know what our dynamic would be.
So I’ll add to it. It’s true, furthermore and factually, that I am not dead and I have not raped or killed anyone. I might have made people anxious, or been extremely mean; but some close people have stood up to me.
I could even harp on it. But *says this stoically* I’ll let that be it.
[Pauses for five minutes, stretch break. Gets some water.]
And then I will add that I get weirdly defensive in this very-literal-damn way about a phase of Taylor fandom. I am like, her songs and social media were designed to trick my brain’s chemistry. Sometimes I’m like, she knows who I am, we’ve basically been friends!!! And that’s what I call: delusions… of grandeur?
Maybe even… entitlement?? I’m entitled, I was entitled to her behaving like a pal from very far away.
It is probably something she’s a professional at doing.
What would I tell my family, if I felt empty one day, because my headphones weren’t working and I couldn’t listen to my friend Taylor.
“Seriously it’s like I know her!! I wrote about her abusively, affectionately too. It was a cycle. And I figured everything out, about how she’s nearly a seeerrrious artist, but she isn’t quite, no. And there might be something at stake with all this fucking weird humor that’s violent and, and..”
“Morgan leave that shit alone. You’re acting like a meth addict and your meth is weird stalking habits of famous people.”
“I am offended and extremely taken aback by that statement,” I’d have felt like saying in my Jesse-Eisenberg-as-Zuckerberg voice, with a slight snarl — back in my twenties. Younger, not stupid. Less mature though.
In all honesty though we in the family never WOULD have had this conversation, because having a conversation would’ve yanked me right off my delusion; like a creature being dragged off a cliff. I’d have stayed cooped-up in my room like a pet, taking meals there alone. (This is true.) Any conversations we would have had, might have caused me to feel ashamed of myself for being legitimately mentally sick: still categorically depressed like everyone or most people, not yet diagnosed and treated for more specific issues. The only times it truly seemed real, that these celebrities were friends of mine — Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, more recently Tavi Gevinson, and further in the past, solo male artists with big egos [usually rappers whose lyrics I might know better than any poet’s oeuvre] (these were my “friends”), The Weeknd, Kendrick, Asap, Jay, Drake, and should be I scared to admit Kanye West; I know all their stuff — [oh and I was saying, the only times they became my “pals”] might have been times when I was very VERY alone and could not communicate, not even with my sister and mom.
I’d be so far off, in a painful lonely place. It’s all I could take. I was getting sicker. While getting sicker I would find that I listen more to music than any other kind of art including video games; it’s the easiest to do while bedridden. Anyone who’s had addiction problems including online addictions, who finds themselves bedridden, not yet in old age or injured physically, in-my-view-with-its-perspective should at least consider psychotherapy — and should might be a judgmental word and I might be forgetting some people who would be bedridden and not actually mentally ill but; I don’t think that’s a good sign, if you spend days in bed feeling ill. I might be a cautionary tale, please listen then. Even if you’re comfy with your laptop there. Don’t get too comfortable, friends. And if you did for-some-reason [whoever the fuck reads this and reflects someday], realize you got too comfy cozy fuzzybird (tell those happy thoughts “STFU”), it’s not too late to leave the house and do some birdwatching, or whatever: now and then is good.
Expect the world to be hard if you’re not just staring at birds though.
Birds aside, real birds or fake — there are good, nice people left in the world, and welcome to the club; you can be one of them yay.
You might even be part an exclusive, fucking club. Depends, I mean, unfortunately myself along with Viktor Frankl (author of a Holocaust memoir Man’s Search for Meaning) might agree on this point: truly, truly good men are the minority. But I think the choice is a no-brainer if it’s not too late, to choose the good club….
People aren’t going to listen to this chapter because it’s not stylishly DARK enough but then, they’ll think about it later. Perhaps.
Flash back to me listening to music all night IN THE DARK. All it took, was a five minute conversation with someone real and relatively down to earth after using my laptop as a substitute-brain for ten years, for me to be like “oh shiyt, what did I just say ouch… holy shit… crashing burning, in real life so not on the TS page of this incel forum…” (reminder that at this time I’ve never actually been on a site scarier than Reddit and I was only there to crack the nut that is Caroline Calloway) [but I’m illustrating a point] (and the point is that my voice, from listening to music and having that be my life, did not match who I was in reality). In the real chats with some real human beings, I would not be able to mention my love-hatespeech diaries and how I’d probably accidentally masturbated to the song “I Can’t Get Enough.” Eww, it’s a song with a video that I also thought, was nearly serious art but definitely was not. I’m sorry.
OK NOW GO TO CHRISTMAS
I don’t still have the same taste for especially-mainstream music, but I like it sometimes sure.
You have to explain how the reason to “dress like a guy or something” is to preserve not lose your humanity, sensitivity — and this is when you might be wise to bring in all the o
On 9.4.2020, before an argument that left my mom with hurt feelings—a fight which started quiet when my mom said, it’s good Morgan if you want to be a surgeon that you aren’t on meds that give you the shakes [a bipolar thing]—my sister Alexis, initially horrified at my mom’s insensitivity to how hard it’s been for me to try out various prescriptions that caused any unwanted side effects (tremors being one of the possibilities), later suggested to me, that, “it just seems like you keep putting off taking care of yourself.” I wouldn’t quite disagree though I’m reluctant to submit to my sister’s guidance, despite how she’s been my go-to for feedback within our immediate family. (I no longer go to our parents.) The specific implication, I think in this context, was that I probably could have benefitted from finding a psychiatrist or therapist or both, long ago, e.g. starting in Minneapolis where I lived for close to a year starting in late 2019 after the hospital. I had to pause momentarily and listen to my instincts. Why hadn’t I been seeing a therapist? Oh yeah. I didn’t feel willing to explain to my sister, how I just didn’t like the one I was assigned through the outpatient program I’d been attending in a suburb of Minneapolis. It was a 12-week program, from which I was discharged about a month early due to problems with my insurance.
They found out, I was still on Medicaid in New York; it complicated the situation of being treated in Minnesota. I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket of course. I remember feeling relieved. I didn’t feel I’d been treated as an individual human with unique needs. More like, “just another case,” which is fine; I wasn’t receiving preferential treatment, which is how it should always be, duh. Right? It might be true that I still looked (or dressed) like a roughnecker, sodden with distress, and that’s where my sister was coming from when she said, “you keep putting off taking care of yourself.” The previous sentence might just reflect how my insecurities sometimes get in the way of good advice. I didn’t say anything, when she said that, as I tend to avoid speaking up to anyone in my family when I have complicated feelings on correct next steps in my own life. At the very least I can say for sure, I had a defensive reaction internally. If I would have spoken up (and maybe I’ll still say this, now in this chapter which she might confront me about including), it would have been to say something like: I’ve actually taken good care of myself, the best I hardly can, considering where I’ve been.
The only successful surgeon I can think of was the dad of one of my old closest friends Cecelia Esther, whose house in Southwest Minneapolis was so much nicer that I never invited her to mine; I’d just ride my bike to hers, on a block lined with cedar trees near a creek. As a sixth grader Cece had served time as that weird new kid at our public middle school, because the Hebrew school where she went before only ran K-5. It didn’t take her long to make friends for being funny; at our middle school, I think popular meant making the cut for parties where we’d play truth or dare and everyone would get in a line and kiss all members of the opposite sex, on the cheek. And then it escalated to strip poker and I left to do my own thing. Back then I’d never be the darer, I’d just keep quiet. But I’d finagle my own wishes like by leaning in and kissing Sam Johnson not on the cheek but on the lips. And for me it would be a big deal, but he’d end up dating another girl and that was never surprising. I never had boyfriends, as I was not exactly dateable; I used to dress poorly, back then not on purpose. The scarier party games in middle school involved pantsing someone so everyone saw their butt, or something; then it became a thing sometimes on the school playground not just at parties. How horrible. I don’t remember getting pantsed myself, but I definitely didn’t want to be, and by eighth grade I remember feeling like my swimsuits compared to the other girls were not cutting it. Two-pieces not bikinis, from Marshall’s not Pink. I also remember being told by one of my “faster” friends in eighth grade, that the reason people used to like me was because I was funny and crazy and, well. I wasn’t anymore? We stopped hanging out, she went to a different high school, the one further up in the hood. From then on I was only funny and crazy, for role play; like, if it was for a performance, for a talent show or sketch comedy.
As younger girls: I’m not sure how Cece found her way in that crowd without ever wearing mini skirts. Actually I do know. Even more than me back then, she was funny and crazy like one of the guys. She wore T-shirts that said ‘Hummer’ on the front, and would take me in her basement and pretend to bag my virtual corpse in 2-player WWII video games on Xbox, each time I was killed by her which was never vice versa. I remember sometimes feeling upset but not speaking up, and then we would do stuff like buy remote control cars at Walgreens and place them on the roofs of other homes on her block and drive them to the top until they fell off and broke on someone’s back patio. As we got older I’d keep a bit of distance from being with Cece 24/7, probably knowing that her house at night would host parties dangerous enough that she once called me in seventh grade weeping, because her own older sister had thrown a party where Cece’s Xbox and all games were stolen. This was the same older sis of Cece’s who would be hospitalized, for high blood alcohol content, at least three times in high school. In the hallways, such drama would be discussed by strangers but Cece would describe it to me more graphically; how she’d been passed out on the floor, in their front hall with the staircase and grandfather clock, how her parents were on the ground slapping her and thinking she might be gone. She’d had her stomach pumped, once; then it happened it again and again. Cece saw it all. Later Cece would be the one throwing parties, but it was maybe kind of different; at least, she called her own shots. Sometimes I remember, her dad the heart surgeon would stop in the basement and say “killing Nazis?”—a quick pat on the back before leaving his daughter to shoot ‘em up.
I was Jewish too, relatively though by then I wasn’t practicing anymore, and was half-Mormon on the other side (also not practicing). On Christmas as kids still, Cece called me about thirty times and said if I didn’t come over now to play Xbox, she’d stop inviting me. I was like, “I can’t today, Cece, it’s Christmas,” I’d be back over next week to get shot.
“Who wore it best,” was my mom’s other incursion last night [in 2020 when I wrote this part], which still weighed on my mind this morning after too little sleep. My sister had just revealed that the shirt she was wearing, was one that we’d salvaged from Grandma’s belongings. Alexis and I both caught each other’s eye; all I could think, for once not alone with this kind of thing, was how nice it was to briefly have some company. Reinforcements. Even if things would go back, and my sister was just going to say for a day, and get my mom’s best side, and learn driving from me, so she and her boyfriend could go to the beach more frequently and not feel beholden to carpooling through people in our legitimately dangerous family, with which I hoped to identify less each year but sometimes felt I could never ever escape. Usually if my sister came here with her boyfriend, I would slink into the shadows, unwilling to fight for dignity in the power dynamics that probably didn’t exist, but somehow didn’t go away. My mom clarified, “it’s awful when celeb rags say those things,” then said to just me that Alexis wore it better (than our grandma). Again, I pretended not to hear; my mom knew I was pretending, and I knew she would take that as a slight and be upset with me, I guess for not laughing. Being an old professional, my sister upon overhearing something that we both agree might be weird, or crossing the line, tends to help defend the densely walled-off mental emotional fort where I hold out alone 7 days a week. But she also might not care to think about me, in there. I think by now in this book I’ve taken her and other family members, unflinchingly, to court.
Whenever I’ve let my own resulting weirdness overflow beyond castle moats, my shame has been something I can only deal with retroactively—ideally in safer spaces, therapy, or if that wasn’t possible or comfortable for me, in screenplays written while half-asleep [writing that might admittedly, cross the line]; otherwise it’s just too much for me to even comprehend without the walls cracking.
If I used to think my mom was the bee’s knees, and be convinced of that reality—which I did as a kid for all the years I slept in her bed 7 days a week, because I couldn’t sleep alone—at some point, in the past few years through all the treatment and exposure to new ways of comprehending the world and my trauma, it’s possible that I slipped one toe into a new set of beliefs. In 2019, I thought I’d landed a job as a paralegal with a resume that said “Lola Morgan Wilcock,” though I must have behaved presumptuously in the aftermath. It was a decent interview, we were in contact for a short while and discussing next steps, but, that can be a head fake and, I know I’m in denial when I start acting on blind certainty. Unfortunately that is how I acted.
The details this time should not concern anyone but myself. I should be clear before continuing, also, that my parents were in ebbing and flowing phases the best any could wish for (truly like the dad in classic film The Bicycle Thieves, each of them at moments). If financial hardship was the main source of their turmoil, it’s only something I came to understand with perspective: in how I saw things, it is hard to cite a point when the gauze over my eyes was pulled off to the sounds of me wailing, when I lost my voice and then my sensitive face, and started feeling that rejection and heartbreak were too terrible to choose to fight through, or fight for ultimately — my humanity felt not worth-the-battle-for-it — compared to fighting substance abuse and other addictions including some really sick ones. Those too I have seen in my parents, and don’t have to write about; that way I can rationalize that I’ve actually been, at moments, generous in how much I’ve disclosed on the page.
So now before I go back to real friends, not non-friends, I’d like to clarify that Hope all along and how I acted toward her — toward this imaginary woman — was how I couldn’t act toward my sister, without the words or sensitivity to do it, to confront her about everything that, well, factually has happened. This book is my consolation offering, probably better kept from now on in conversations in real life. Hope, goodbye and good luck.
Ch six: And then there was one
Our grandparents’ house on the Wilcock side has always been a bit of a switch from our immediate family’s home. Nick got to see the assorted trinkets my grandpa would have collected in his anthropological studies throughout South America, and I think Persian territories; I use the word “Persian” with a grain of salt, acknowledging it’s dated like the entire practice of studying tribes in Third World countries as a tall white man with Judy there too. I would say, the studies went over well for his own career trajectory back in the states, but I’d prefer not to go into it (for fear of being entirely misunderstood, if this ever gets read)—I will say off-handedly that my sister and I might have a brush of new money in our veins that we two ourselves kind of shudder to acknowledge. My mother’s side of the family, the Jewish East Coast side, has contributed more to our educations (well, to mine) [I wouldn’t talk about “new money” with them because it just isn’t like that] — but Alexis and I have said, in words, we don’t regret having spent a lot of time with Grandma Judy, who grew up so poor she got sick of eating venison. She did fine in her life, you could say. My grandpa said had wished she’d gone to school. She read and did art and sewed and decorated. She’d do stuff like, our hair sometimes, or punching our elbows off the table when we ate at scheduled times.
Nick’s impressions were that, even though she already couldn’t form sentences when he met her, she seemed very kind; I’d honestly (pausing now to check my karma because, this is our beloved grandma who died recently) if I had heard Nick say that and my mom had been in the same room, would have validated that Grandma was not always that nice, “to you.” I only think so because I believe that as Grandma’s mind frayed and she confused Mom for me, she wasn’t always that sweet.
My mom is fat now and knows and that is mean but when she met my dad she looked like a young me; the other day she was like “you know how to do that” sort of criticizing me for abnegating my sex appeal because I just haven’t felt the need. She’s like “in pictures, dad and I had that thing.” I was like eww! No, having a retired Jewish whore for a mom gets you used to these things.