Review: The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith

In the late 40s, shortly after she sold the rights to her first book Strangers on a Train (as far as I remember, Hitchcock basically swindled her), Patricia Highsmith worked for a couple of weeks at the toy department of a store, where she met a stunning woman: a poised, rich-looking, beautiful blonde who asked for a toy for her daughter. The author sold her some doll and learned the woman’s address, because the store would deliver the toy there. More importantly for Patricia, she had come to realize something: she was in love at first sight with a woman. That was a problem for many reasons, one of them that she was dating a guy.

At home, in feverish two hours, Highsmith wrote the entire treatment for the story that would end up becoming The Price of Salt / Carol, a novel she would have never considered writing before. The author grew a fever shortly after; some kid at the store had exposed her to chicken pox. She had to quit her job. Since that day at the store, she only came close to the stunning blonde once: Patricia visited New Jersey and stared at the married woman’s home from a distance, as she likely wished that she could belong to that place.

This book follows a nineteen-year-old girl named Therese Belivet. Her parents abandoned her, she grew up in some sort of boarding school, and now she works at the toy department of a store, although she wishes she could become a stage designer. She’s dating a guy called Richard who’s a bit of a dilettante: he wants to become a professional painter, but he has little talent and doesn’t apply himself. He’s mainly trying to avoid his destiny of working at his family’s business.

One day a poised, rich-looking, beautiful blonde enters the toy department wanting to buy a present for her daughter. After the transaction, which included a pleasant interaction between them, Carol forgets some item at the store. The protagonist does something that the author likely wouldn’t have dared to do: she mails it to the woman’s residence along with some words to remember Therese by. Carol, touched, asks her out for lunch, which sets both women on a path of degeneration (a quote included later on features a rebuttal from this Carol character about such notion).

Carol is getting divorced because she doesn’t love her husband, and some months ago had a fling with a long-term female friend of hers. Now she risks losing her daughter because her husband, who is a no-nonsense business guy, wants full custody due to Carol’s lack of moral compass (mostly because her lover was another woman).

Given that Carol is based on an idealized love-at-first-sight, the author could have put her on a pedestal, but Carol, in the narrator’s words, is “a woman with a child and a husband, with freckles on her hands and a habit of cursing, of growing melancholy at unexpected moments, with a bad habit of indulging her will.” I found her quite compelling. In contrast, the protagonist felt somewhat vague until the last quarter of the story.

The bulk of the story consists of a roadtrip that both women take heading West. Therese loves Carol, but suspects that she may be a convenient distraction for the older woman, who has enough to worry about with the divorce. Meanwhile, her husband has money to spare to figure out how his estranged wife may want to enjoy her trip with a barely twenty-year-old girl.

Highsmith puts us then-and-there along with her protagonist: we are never sure of anyone else’s intentions, or even what’s going on some of the time, because Therese herself doesn’t know. Carol has lived a complicated life up to that point, and at times I felt as superfluous to Carol and her former lover Abby’s conversations, as well as those between Carol and her husband, as the protagonist herself did, which I consider a point in the novel’s favor; most of what I ask from a story is to make me step into the protagonist’s POV and live vicariously through them.

Patricia’s writing felt somewhat meagre throughout the first quarter of the story, maybe in part because she had never written anything like it (Strangers on a Train was her first novel). The prose improves consistently until the end.

As I mentioned in my review of one of the author’s most prominent biographies, supported by at least one of Patricia’s friends who was a psychiatrist, Patricia Highsmith seemed to be on the autistic spectrum. Her anxiety and sensory issues are on full display during the scenes at the toy department, and throughout the story, the protagonist’s (and author’s) inability to properly read people or even understand her own impulses come into play. The author’s obsession with the real-life Carol, as well as the less prominent behavior of Therese towards the fictional one, are characteristic of autism as well (and I know plenty about that).

This afternoon, after I finished the book, I sat down to watch the movie adaptation released in 2016, starring Rooney Mara as Therese and Cate Blanchett as Carol. Blanchett was wonderful as her character; unfortunately, whoever wrote the screenplay manipulated the original in idiotic, and for me infuriating, ways. Instead of a stage designer (in the novel she gets paid a couple of times to work as one), movie Therese wants to be a photographer even though she barely has a camera; it makes her seem like a dilettante. Her boyfriend, Richard, just works at the same store and lacks any dreams or artistic sensibilities. Far worse yet: following the recent tradition in the media of shitting on men, that has become the norm in Western society for the last twenty years or so, the main male characters are depicted as obnoxious, brutish and irrational. Patricia didn’t write them that way. I couldn’t get past the midpoint of the movie for that reason.

Patricia Highsmith chose to publish this novel with the pseudonym of Claire Morgan, and afterwards she started frequenting gay bars in New York, where she became a local legend. I recently watched a short documentary about Highsmith that mentioned that the lesbian ladies of New York referred to Patricia as the White Wolf, because of her ravenous appetite, the fact that she was white, and that she hunted monsters for coin. Patricia mentioned in her diaries, using different words, that she got enough pussy to last her several lifetimes.

I’m a guy and I can’t consider myself a lesbian even if I wanted to (although Patricia and I seem to have the same taste in dommy mommies women), but this story made me experience again that unique gift of written fiction: the author captured through words alone two real human beings that remain as alive and young as they were now ages ago, and that will, one supposes, go on loving each other endlessly.

Here are the quotes I highlighted:

Therese’s lips opened to speak, but her mind was too far away. Her mind was at a distant point, at a distant vortex that opened on the scene in the dimly lighted, terrifying room where the two of them seemed to stand in desperate combat. And at the point of the vortex where her mind was, she knew it was the hopelessness that terrified her and nothing else. It was the hopelessness of Mrs. Robichek’s ailing body and her job at the store, of her stack of dresses in the trunk, of her ugliness, the hopelessness of which the end of her life was entirely composed. And the hopelessness of herself, of ever being the person she wanted to be and of doing the things that person would do. Had all her life been nothing but a dream, and was this real? It was the terror of this hopelessness that made her want to shed the dress and flee before it was too late, before the chains fell around her and locked.

There was not a moment when she did not see Carol in her mind, and all she saw, she seemed to see through Carol. That evening, the dark flat streets of New York, the tomorrow of work, the milk bottle dropped and broken in her sink, became unimportant. She flung herself on her bed and drew a line with a pencil on a piece of paper. And another line, carefully, and another. A world was born around her, like a bright forest with a million shimmering leaves.

I feel I stand in a desert with my hands outstretched, and you are raining down upon me.

Was life, were human relations like this always, Therese wondered. Never solid ground underfoot. Always like gravel, a little yielding, noisy so the whole world could hear, so one always listened, too, for the loud, harsh step of the intruder’s foot.

Therese frowned, floundering in a sea without direction or gravity, in which she knew only that she could mistrust her own impulses.

Happiness was like a green vine spreading through her, stretching fine tendrils, bearing flowers through her flesh. She had a vision of a pale white flower, shimmering as if seen in darkness, or through water. Why did people talk of heaven, she wondered.

If she ever had an impulse to tell Carol, the words dissolved before she began, in fear and in her usual mistrust of her own reactions, the anxiety that her reactions were like no one else’s, and that therefore not even Carol could understand them.

Between the pleasure of a kiss and of what a man and woman do in bed seems to me only a gradation. A kiss, for instance, is not to be minimized, or its value judged by anyone else. I wonder do these men grade their pleasure in terms of whether their actions produce a child or not, and do they consider them more pleasant if they do. It is a question of pleasure after all, and what’s the use debating the pleasure of an ice cream cone versus a football game–or a Beethoven quartet versus the Mona Lisa. I’ll leave that to the philosophers. But their attitude was that I must be somehow demented or blind (plus a kind of regret, I thought, at the fact that a fairly attractive woman is presumably unavailable to men). […] The most important point I did not mention and was not thought of by anyone–that the rapport between two men or two women can be absolute and perfect, as it can never be between man and woman, and perhaps some people want just this, as others want that more shifting and uncertain thing that happens between men and women. It was said or at least implied yesterday that my present course would bring me to the depths of human vice and degeneration. Yes, I have sunk a good deal since they took you from me. It is true, if I were to go on like this and be spied upon, attacked, never possessing one person long enough so that knowledge of a person is a superficial thing–that is degeneration. Or to live against one’s grain, that is degeneration by definition.

It was Carol she loved and would always love. Oh, in a different way now, because she was a different person, and it was like meeting Carol all over again, but it was still Carol and no one else. It would be Carol, in a thousand cities, a thousand houses, in foreign lands where they would go together, in heaven and in hell.

Review: Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith, by Andrew Wilson

Originally written in September 2016, posted on Goodreads.

A few years ago I found a quote (I love quotes), by a certain Amy Hempel, that intrigued me:

“I read about a famous mystery writer who worked for one week in a department store. One day she saw a woman come in and buy a doll. The mystery writer found out the woman’s name, and took a bus to New Jersey to see where the woman lived. That was all. Years later, she referred to this woman as the love of her life. It is possible to imagine a person so entirely that the image resists attempts to dislodge it.”

I wondered who that mystery writer could have been, and I also identified with a mind that would daydream an entire life out of a moment and follow that obsession. That “mystery writer” was Patricia Highsmith.

While I was reading her This Sweet Sickness, about a loner unable to connect with people and who obsesses over a woman he loves, to the point of building a complete second identity, I identified with it, and how it was told, in a way that suggested that the writer was the kind of peculiar I was; hardly anyone knows about the depths of social blindness, isolation, anxiety and obsession (and attached maladies like obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic depression) like autistic people.

Patricia Highsmith was a retiring, silent person with a tremendously dark interior world, who could not properly connect with anyone, who loved certain people when they were away but needed space when they were close. She considered herself to have a man’s brain, but didn’t want a man’s body, and was attracted to women, but didn’t particularly like them. She was a masochist who consistently “chose” to love women who bossed her around and hurt her. She smoked and drank so heavily that those vices destroyed her body, although, curiously enough, didn’t seem to have affected her mind. Her instincts didn’t align with the human world around her. She was hypersensitive to noises and being touched. She was clumsy and awkward. She was at her best while daydreaming or writing, but fell into horrible depressions the moment she came back to herself. She was never at ease with the world.

Almost everything about her screamed Asperger’s to me, but I can’t be objective about it. It was weird that nobody else caught it, until one of her friends did, as mentioned in this biography:

“In hindsight, I think Pat could have had a form of high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. She had a lot of typical traits. She had a terrible sense of direction, she would always get lost and whenever she went to the hairdresser’s she would have trouble parking even though she had been with me lots of times. She was hypersensitive to sound and had these communications difficulties. Most of us screen certain things, but she would spit out everything she thought. She was not aware of the nuances of conversation and she didn’t realise when she had hurt other people. That was probably why her love affairs never lasted very long, because she couldn’t overcome the difficulties in communicating. Although she didn’t really understand other people – she had such a strange interior world – she was a fantastic observer. She would see things that an average person would never experience.”

She wasn’t a recluse, however, like some journalists called her. She kept plenty of friends, travelled and invited people over, people who tolerated how weird she was. She never made it as big as she deserved mostly because she didn’t care to belong to a “writer’s community,” didn’t like to expose herself to the public (she considered interviews humiliating), and her stories usually failed to offer hope or platitudes.

Patricia was also a misanthrope who disliked or even hated way more stuff and people than she liked. She got in trouble for her opinions regarding black people, religion, and Israel. Having been born clearly different, she was a hardcore individualist that intended people to take responsibility for themselves. During the last half of her life, and having been on the brink of bankruptcy, never knowing if the next book was going to sell, she was very stingy with money, but in her will she left her millions to a writer’s retreat she spent a few weeks in while writing her first novel. She died alone in Switzerland, in a home designed as a bunker.

Despite all of her issues, reading about her has made me aware of a hole in the world, the kind that opens when a real human being goes away. I look forward to learning more about her, and about myself, while reading her stories.

The following is a poem that Patricia wrote during her last years in Switzerland:

At dawn, after my death hours before,
The sunlight will spread at seven o’clock as usual
On these trees which I know.
Greenness will burst, dark green shadows yield
To the cruel-benign, indifferent sun.
Indifferent will stand the trees in my own garden,
Unweeping for me on the morning of my death.
Same as ever, roots athirst,
The trees will rest in breezeless dawn,
Blind and uncaring,
The trees that I knew,
That I tended.


I thought about this review because I’m finishing Patricia’s The Price of Salt, a prolonged daydream set in the 50s about dating that woman from New Jersey that at the most she saw a couple of times. In a significant part because Patricia reminds me so much of myself, I can’t think of any other dead writer that I would want more to be still alive and healthy.

Here are some quotes I highlighted from this biography:

After reading Burgum, [Patricia Highsmith] wrote in her cahier that, like Kafka, she felt she was a pessimist, unable to formulate a system in which an individual could believe in God, government or self. Again like Kafka, she looked into the great abyss which separated the spiritual and the material and saw the terrifying emptiness, the hollowness, at the heart of every man, a sense of alienation she felt compelled to explore in her fiction. As her next hero, she would take an architect, ‘a young man whose authority is art and therefore himself,’ who when he murders, ‘feels no guilt or even fear when he thinks of legal retribution.’ The more she read of Kafka the more she felt afraid as she came to realise, ‘I am so similar to him.’

If [Patricia Highsmith] saw an acquaintance walking down the sidewalk she would deliberately cross over so as to avoid them. When she came in contact with people, she realised she split herself into many different, false, identities, but, because she loathed lying and deceit, she chose to absent herself completely rather than go through such a charade. Highsmith interpreted this characteristic as an example of ‘the eternal hypocrisy in me,’ rather her mental shape-shifting had its source in her quite extraordinary ability to empathise. Her imaginative capacity to subsume her own identity, while taking on the qualities of those around her – her negative capability, if you like – was so powerful that she said she often felt like her inner visions were far more real than the outside world. She aligned herself with the mad and the miserable, ‘the insane man who feels himself one with all mankind, all life, because in losing his mind, he has lost his ego, his self-ness,’ yet realised that such a state inspired her fiction. Her ambition, she said, was to write about the underlying sickness of this ‘daedal planet’ and capture the essence of the human condition: eternal disappointment.

[Patricia Highsmith] had experienced at first hand many of Ripley’s characteristics – splintered identity, insecurity, inferiority, obsession with an object of adoration, and the violence that springs from repression. Like her young anti-hero, she knew that in order to survive, it was necessary to prop oneself up with a psychological fantasy of one’s own making. ‘Happiness, for me, is a matter of imagination,’ she wrote in her notebook while writing The Talented Mr. Ripley. ‘Existence is a matter of unconscious elimination of negative and pessimistic thinking. I mean, to survive at all. And this applies to everyone. We are all suicides under the skin, and under the surface of our lives.’

Early in 1967 Highsmith’s agent told her why her books did not sell in paperback in America. It was, said Patricia Schartle Myrer, because they were ‘too subtle,’ combined with the fact that none of her characters were likeable. ‘Perhaps it is because I don’t like anyone,’ Highsmith replied. ‘My last books may be about animals.’

As some people turned to religion for comfort, so, Highsmith wrote in her notebook in September 1970, she took refuge in her belief that she was making progress as a writer. But she realised that both systems of survival were, however, fundamentally illusory. She wrote, she said, quoting Oscar Wilde because, ‘Work never seems to me a reality, but a way of getting rid of reality.’

It seemed to me as if she had to ape feelings and behaviour, like Ripley. Of course sometimes having no sense of social behaviour can be charming, but in her case it was alarming. I remember once, when she was trying to have a dinner party with people she barely knew, she deliberately leaned towards the candle on the table and set fire to her hair. People didn’t know what to do as it was a very hostile act and the smell of singeing and burning filled the room.

Those close to [Patricia Highsmith], particularly her family, often commented on how Highsmith’s vision of reality was a warped one. In April 1947, she transcribed into her notebook what was, presumably, a real dialogue between herself and her mother, in which Mary accused her of not facing the world. Highsmith replied that she did indeed view the world ‘sideways, but since the world faces reality sideways, sideways is the only way the world can be looked at in true perspective.’ The problem, Highsmith said, was that her psychic optics were different to those around her, but if that was the case, her mother replied, then she should equip herself with a pair of new spectacles. Highsmith was not convinced. ‘Then I need a new birth,’ she concluded.

[Patricia Highsmith] was overwhelmed by sensory stimulation – there were too many people and too much noise and she just could not handle the supermarket. She continually jumped, afraid that someone might recognise or touch her. She could not make the simplest of decisions – which type of bread did she want, or what kind of salami? I tried to do the shopping as quickly as possible, but at the check-out she started to panic. She took out her wallet, knocked off her glasses, dropped the money on the floor, stuff was going all over the place.

Throughout her life, Highsmith looked for women whom she could worship. Sex was far from the most important factor in any relationship; rather, it was this near-divine quality for which she yearned.

The artistic life is a long and lovely suicide precisely because it involves the negation of self; as Highsmith imagined herself as her characters, so Ripley takes on the personae of others and in doing so metamorphoses himself into a ‘living’ work of art. A return to the ‘real life’ after a period of creativity resulted in a fall in spirits, an agony Highsmith felt acutely. She voiced this pain in the novel via Bernard’s quotation of an excerpt from Derwatt’s notebook: ‘There is no depression for the artist except that caused by a return to the self.’

As soon as [Patricia Highsmith] had stopped work, she felt purposeless and quite at a loss about what to do with herself. ‘There is no real life except in working,’ she wrote in her notebook, ‘that is to say in the imagination.’ It was in this state that she observed that only one situation would drive her to commit murder – being part of a family unit. Most likely, she thought, she would strike out in anger at a small child, felling them in one blow. But children over the age of eight, she surmised, would probably take two blows to kill. The reality of socialising with anyone, no matter how close, she said, left her feeling fatigued.

As the new year began, [Patricia Highsmith] felt completely paralysed, incapable of reading or picking up the phone. ‘I can feel my grip loosening on my self,’ she wrote. ‘It is like strength failing in the hand that holds me above an abyss.’ She wished there was a more awful-sounding word for what she was feeling than simply ‘depression.’ She wanted to die, she said, but then realised that the best course of action would be to endure the wretchedness until it passed. Her wish was, ‘Not to die, but not to exist, simply, until this is over.’

Faced with the prospect of a black depression, Highsmith once again retreated into fantasy, dreaming about an affair with the actress Anne Meacham, whose picture she had seen in a magazine publicising her role in the Tennessee Williams’ play, In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel. After the disasters of recent years, she reckoned that the safest option was to escape into romantic imagination. She reviewed her failures over the past five years and concluded that ‘the moral is: stay alone. Any idea of any close relationship should be imaginary, like any story I am writing. This way no harm is done to me or to any other person.’

[Patricia Highsmith] was an extremely unbalanced person, extremely hostile and misanthropic and totally incapable of any kind of relationship, not just intimate ones. I felt sorry for her, because it wasn’t her fault. There was something in her early days or whatever that made her incapable. She drove everybody away and people who really wanted to be friends ended up putting the phone down on her.

[Patricia Highsmith] was a figure of contradictions: a lesbian who didn’t particularly like women; a writer of the most insightful psychological novels who, at times, appeared bored by people; a misanthrope with a gentle, sweet nature.

Life update (01/07/2023)

My latest job contract has ended, so I’m currently unemployed. I always used to feel relief whenever I found myself jobless, because that meant spending far more time away from people, and conserving my energy to write. However, in three days I have a check up scheduled with a cardiologist (a new one, because I wanted a second opinion), and next saturday I will travel to Vitoria-Gasteiz on train for a public exam that I have been preparing (and dreading) for months, although in the end it will only determine for less than a year (whenever the results come into effect in this weird system they have set up) whether or not they will call me to work at some hospital as an IT guy.

Ten days from now I’ll have to visit my previous cardiologist for another check up; when I first met him, he got pissy when I told him the objective fact that I had never experienced heart issues until the very day I got the latest “booster vaccine” (I have experienced palpitations and weird electrical sensations since, which progressed into two episodes of atrial fibrillation that landed me in the ER). The guy told me that the [manufactured virus of unspecified origen] vaccines are unrelated to heart issues, even though journals of colleges of cardiology say otherwise. After he performed an echocardiogram on me, he was already ending the visit when I had to remind him that he hadn’t told me about the results. He said that my left ventricle was too big, and that I should never ever drink alcohol again (I don’t drink). I don’t trust the prick.

Yesterday I woke up exhausted and with a headache. By four in the afternoon I wanted to go to sleep, so I took a nap. I woke up at half past six. I wasted the rest of the day visiting shady websites to watch grim videos of pedestrians getting hit by vehicles (mostly in Russia, because they have cameras in their cars, and also because they’re nuts), and of other ghastly occurrences such as people getting electrocuted or getting involved in deadly firefights. Sometimes I become entranced by such moments in which, for example, a woman is absentmindedly crossing the train tracks, only to lift her gaze toward her impending death in the form of a rushing hunk of machinery: someone was living their normal life only to suddenly switch and become something else entirely, whether that means dead or crippled in some way for the rest of their lives.

I also watched a few videos of a paraplegic woman from Ontario who has to stimulate her sphincter digitally to poo, and who was so horrified by that propect that she convinced her mother to do it for her from her paralysis at thirteen years old until she moved out.

I have been using VR porn for a few years. Regarding masturbation, nothing so far has beat being able to choose the environment, the “doll,” what she’s wearing, how she sounds like, the pose, and the rhythm, etc. It tricks my mind so well that I have consistenly had better orgasms through VR porn than those I remember from having actual sex, with the added bonus that I don’t have to deal with a flesh-and-bone person. Last time, I loaded a room with a Christmas tree and jingles playing, to make it festive, and as the woman I chose a slim, doll-faced blonde who moaned in French. She mounted my avatar in cowgirl. After I came down from the blissful break from reality and I took my headset off carefully to avoid staining it with cum, I got reminded of the most recent reason why I chose that look for the doll.

Back in summer I visited Hendaye, a French commune within walking distance (I live in the border). It was the first time in my life that I walked around in that town, even though my parents used to drive through it every year to go to the beach. The experience was haunting, partly because it felt like I was traversing through memories, and because the layout of the town itself feels ancient and the town in general uninhabited.

Anyway, as I was approaching their local train station, I lifted my gaze and found myself staring back at a woman in her thirties, perhaps late thirties. She was blonde and slim, and wearing a modest summer dress. Beautiful pale gray eyes. She gave me the impression some women give off: as if yesterday they were in their late tens, only to blink and find themselves aged and not knowing how that happened. But what impacted me the most was that she looked sad, with the kind of haunted resignation that often yearns for an easy way out. The poor woman was likely wary of me, a 6’15 tall, bearded, broad, crazy-looking guy.

I’ll likely never see that woman again, not that it would particularly matter if I did. But the thing is: although VR porn takes care wonderfully of a man’s sexual urges, I still find myself going to sleep and having to run some elaborate scenario in my mind, complete with settings and clothing and dialogue, of me or an avatar getting to know some woman and ending up cuddling in bed with her. You can’t recreate hugs and cuddles through VR, I’m afraid. And it must be important to me, given that I regularly rely on such simulations just to fall asleep, and the protagonist of my current novel, Leire, got infatuated with her lover, Jacqueline (who’s also French, but that’s likely a coincidence), because the latter hugged and comforted the protagonist after she was found crying.

I was born with a very similar mind to that of writer Patricia Highsmith; after I read a single one of her books (I don’t recall which), it became obvious to me that she was autistic and likely had OCD as well. I went straight to reading a biography of hers (Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith, by an author who was clearly infatuated with her), which solidified my certainty. Patricia died before doctors were detecting most cases of autism, but a friend of hers diagnosed Patricia post-mortem as having had Asperger’s.

Famously, Patricia worked at a retail store for maybe a few weeks. One of her clients was a beautiful blonde with a regal demeanour. I doubt that Patricia talked to this woman more than once, but it was love (or more accurately, obsession) at first sight. She figured out where this lady lived, and without this woman’s knowledge, Patricia observed her from a distance. The woman was married and had kids. Years later, Patricia mentioned this woman as the love of her life, and even became the subject of her novel and later movie The Price of Salt (also named Carol). Autistic people, even more when they also have OCD as comorbidity, can build up in their minds such elaborate fantasies that they overwhelm reality to the extent that the person no longer sees any point in interacting with anyone or anything else.

I also have a savior complex of some kind. It’s part of why my mind tortures me with memories of girls I knew growing up and whose troubles I didn’t manage to fix (of a couple, I wonder if they are even alive), why my favorite manga is Asano’s Oyasumi Punpun, maybe also partly why I sometimes go down the rabbit hole of watching pedestrians getting obliterated by vehicles, and why the moment last night when I rested my head on a pillow and closed my eyes, I pictured myself walking around in Hendaye and coming across a softly crying blond, slim woman who told me about her woes and who then later sobbed in my arms, before inviting me to her apartment to give each other warmth under a blanket throughout the night.

Too bad I’m an old, crazy, dead-eyed loon.

Life update (11/24/2022)

I didn’t want to post anything until I finished the current chapter of my novel, which will take a couple of days more or so. However, I’m feeling like shit at the moment. Writing about it is a way of palliating that psychological pain, so here I am.

My current contract at work was supposed to end this Sunday. I was already dreading the end of the week, because I’m always either told on Thursday or even on Friday (if they even “remember” to tell me) whether or not they will prolong my contract. As a thirty-seven year old man, most months I’ve had no clue if the next one I was going to be unemployed, and that has gone on for years. This time it’s even worse: my boss told me that they intend to keep prolonging my contract week by week for the foreseeable future, at least until January of next year.

People are supposed to be happy that someone pays them to work, I’m guessing. Not me: I’m absolutely fed up with my job as an IT guy at a hospital complex. I’ll mention again, for the umpteenth time, that I’m autistic and have OCD. I need, for psychological and neurological reasons, a set, clear schedule, controllable problems to deal with (if I’m forced to deal with any problems), silence, and the least amount of human interactions as possible. Instead I work at an office with an open plan, forced to deal with the moronic interactions of four/five adult men that behave like schoolchildren, with the corresponding noise pollution. In addition, I never know what kind of problem I’ll have to deal with that day, nor the kind of user that I’ll be forced to tolerate.

For example, yesterday I was ordered to switch the printers of PCs at opposite ends of the sterile processing department (the supervisor wanted the fancier printer for herself). Of course, I also had to configure them at their new destinations. I dressed myself like a local employee to enter the sterile environment. When I finished configuring the fancier printer on the supervisor’s PC and told it to print a test page, the printer refused to recognize that its frontal cassette was loaded with paper. I asked the supervisor if the printer worked properly beforehand. “Oh, I don’t know.” I suspect they wanted me to discover the error and fix it. I’m not the kind of IT guy that fixes physical errors in printers. In addition, the specific model of that fancy printer isn’t maintained by the governmental organization that runs these hospitals: the users are supposed to call Ricoh. After I told her this, she answered something like, “why do I need to do that? I’m too busy. You are the one paid to fix machines.”

As a technician employed with this governmental organization, I’m not paid to interact with that kind of printer beyond plugging it into a local PC and making sure it receives the print order. I considered telling her to fuck off and call the company herself as she’s supposed to; I feel like telling people to fuck off very often at my job. But I went through the trouble of calling the company myself. Of course, they told me that “they’ll send someone.” A couple of days. The supervisor considered that unacceptable, because she was supposed to print something in ten or so minutes (although she had ordered us to exchange a working printer for another one that “oh, I don’t know if it works”).

I manage to get the bypass loader working. I didn’t know they had one, because, again, my organization doesn’t maintain those printers. But the printer had the frontal cassette set as the priority source of paper; every time you sent a print order, the display showed an error, and the user had to select the bypass loader manually. The supervisor told me that it was too much of a bother. However, to change it in the options so it considers the bypass loader the priority, I would need admin privileges.

In the end, the supervisor made me responsible for dealing with the printer company and notifying her when they decide to send someone (if they even call me to notify me). I’m not supposed to do any of that, and certainly I’m not paid to do so either. I just gave in because such people are somewhat likely to complain to my bosses for it, and although the bosses know that dealing with those printers’ specific issues isn’t my responsibility, they’ll get annoyed with me if they receive a complaint call.

After that whole incident, I was done for the whole morning; I wanted to shut down and wait out until I left the office. However, it was half past ten in the morning, and I ended up having to deal with plenty more.

Every single day plenty of users demand us to do stuff for them, but often they fail to provide the basic information for solving those issues. “Hey, I need access to the shared folder that my coworkers access.” You end up having to write back to ask for personal information, what computer they are using, the specific path to the folder, etc. Plenty of times they prove themselves hard to reach. Often when they write you back it’s as if they failed to read half of your original message. Sometimes they give you incorrect information, although the correct one was plainly displayed on the screen in front of their fucking eyes. Needless to say, the whole thing is maddening.

When my boss told me they were going to prolong my contract and he saw that I wasn’t ecstatic about it, he said that he knew I intended to take a break to study for an upcoming public examination, which will determine how often they’ll call me back for such contracts. That exam is on the fifteenth of January, and I’ll likely be employed until then. I’m studying at the office, between tasks; I refuse to waste any time doing job-related stuff during my free time, which is devoted mainly to writing. However, I didn’t feel like I could share with anyone I know in person the real reason why I didn’t want to continue: I hate this job, I hate having to be employed, I have waking up at six in the morning to be surrounded with human beings until half past four in the afternoon, and I feel like I’m going crazier every passing day.

After I found out that I’ll likely be employed for the entirety of December (if they cut my current contract short, they’ll still call me to cover other people’s holidays), I’ve felt a cold ache in my chest, added to strange twitches and spasms I’ve felt in there since I received the latest “booster vaccine” about a year ago or so (which caused me atrial fibrillation, a physical issue with my heart). And honestly I just want to hide at one of the rooms that contain the network racks, to either kick a wall or cry for a bit. Perhaps both.

A logical solution to this issue could be to get another job. But by the time I was offered the first contract for this governmental organization, I had “struggled” to find employment as a programmer, for which I was trained. And by struggled I meant that for most of those years I couldn’t get a job, and half of the time that I did get a job, I wasn’t paid for it.

The last time I accepted one of those internships was through an organization that supposedly helps autistic people. The programming company put me working alone at a desk (I was fine with that). I dealt with a single boss who was happy with my performance, but by the end of that internship I was told that they wouldn’t hire me because they didn’t think I would be able to work well in a team. They knew I was autistic. The HR woman wanted me to feel proud that I had wasted six months of my life programming their intranet for free, because now their job was easier. Needless to say, I will never work for free again.

Anyway, my parents, with whom I don’t particularly get along, weren’t too happy about having to pay for most of my stuff during such periods of my life. But they forced me to exist, although they barely tolerated each other. Regarding my current predicament, I have never earned as much money as I do at my current job, although that isn’t saying much, as I barely earned minimum wage as a programmer. However, I’m a single man with no social life, so I’ve managed to build up some savings.

Very often at the office, while I waste another hour of my limited time as a living being, the thought crosses my mind that I should be sitting at home and writing. That’s what I’m meant to do due to the particular combination of nature and nurture that produced my idiotic existence. Some of those times I also think that if I had been born a hot enough girl, someone else could be working their ass off to pay the bills while I sat around at home while diddling myself. I’d have a juicy pair of tits as well, instead of these pituitary-tumor-induced man-boobs. Unfortunately I’m a weird-looking guy who’s only getting older, losing more hair and struggling to lose extra weight, and I wasn’t much better in my prime.

Regarding non-writing-related stuff, Chainsaw Man has been a joy (I was giddy throughout episode 7, knowing what was coming during that work party), and the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress will come out in less than two weeks. Silver linings, I suppose.

Life update (10/18/2022)

Early in the morning, my boss sent me an email that asked if I could come to work in the afternoon this Friday, instead of in the morning as per my schedule. I informed him that, although it was also a surprise for me (because I found out just last week), my contract ends this Thursday, so I wouldn’t come to work on Friday. I guess that the sudden end of my contract is an additional issue for him because I was also supposed to work on Saturday.

A few hours later, the big boss of the office calls me in. I had declined to accept a four months-long contract starting in December that involved a 25-30% pay cut (I only work for money, and for that purpose I sacrifice my time, my energy, my health and my sanity, so I’d rather be unemployed than take on a worse situation, particularly when I have been sinking into depression more often than usual these past months). When I attempted to hear from his lips that my contract ended this Thursday, as registered in the app handled by Human Resources, he said, “no, we have prolonged your contract. Hasn’t the secretary told you?”

So I’ll spend this Friday afternoon in the office until ten at night. When I get home about an hour and a half later, I’ll have to fall asleep as soon as possible, because I wake up at six in the morning to return to the office. The best thing about working on Saturdays was being alone (and getting paid, of course), but unfortunately I’ll have to share the space with someone with whom I’d rather not spend even five minutes.

My broken brain had already built some hills based on the fact that I would find myself unemployed on Friday, which would mean that I would be able to spend hours and hours writing; that would help me finish the current chapter in a couple of days. But this mundane nightmare will continue until at least the 27th of November. After that, I’ll be lucky if I get a two weeks-long break before I’m called back for the Christmas holidays, and I’ll have to waste plenty of that free time studying for an upcoming exam.

Do whatever you have to do: grift, steal, prostitute yourself, build an OnlyFans empire, or date someone who can pay the bills while you lie around at home masturbating. Just don’t become a fucking wage slave.

Life update (10/15/2022)

My current contract at work ends next Thursday. They may prolong it, but they still haven’t figured out if that will be the case, which leaves me in a state of uncertainty. Much worse, though, is that I’ve recently learned that some law changes will imply that I will get offered fewer contracts because I can’t speak Basque. I was born here in the Basque Country, but neither of my parents speak it, and I have lived my entire life in a border town in which you only rarely heard Basque. These days, half of the time I can’t understand a word of whatever language some random person is speaking.

For whatever reason, the big boss of our office wants to keep me around, so he suggested that he’d finagle a contract to make me continue for six months more, under a sort of subsidiary company that works for the regional sanitary organization. I would be doing the same job, but with administrative issues (for example, I’d lose my mailbox and likely be unable to access some admin stuff unless they figure out a back door deal). Much worse yet: I’d get paid 25%-30% less.

If I don’t accept that offer (they still haven’t figured out the details), I may work for about two months of the next six. If I take the offer, I’d work under some shady circumstances, tolerating the same shit at the office, but for 25%-30% less money, which, I admit, would likely be what I would be earning in the private sector as an IT guy.

Let me put it out there: I only work because I need to earn money. Isn’t that the case for most people? They seem to pretend otherwise. And to receive a significant (for me) amount of money at the end of the month, I sacrifice my very limited time, my energy, my health, my sanity. If I don’t accept that contract, I’ll likely find myself with a few weeks of peace at the least, which I would use to study for an upcoming public examination (which I need to pass with a good enough grade), but mainly would allow me to write much more.

I’ve been on phone duty for two weeks. I suppose I should feel bad for mentioning constantly that I’m autistic; in any case, autists are known to need order and predictability, but I work as a firefighter of the computer world: we never know what issue we’ll end up dealing with, problems that can prolong themselves for days or weeks. I’m not one of those people with such social anxiety that they are terrified of phone calls, but talking to people drains my energies and makes my skin crawl, so by the end of the day throughout these last two weeks I’ve been out of it, barely able to do anything productive. I’m not even halfway through the current chapter I’m working on, which should conclude the latest sequence of the novel.

I know damn well that I will never make any significant money writing. I write because I need that magic to remain sane enough, although being me and existing in this world feels near unbearable. I’m too deranged to connect with the vast majority of human beings, in part because my subconscious is a maelström of weird/uncomfortable compulsions. The more that others learn about me, the more they regret knowing me. Only other freaks tend to stick around (and I’m grateful for those few).

In addition, I’m so self-destructive that I’d say fuck off to that six months-long contract (and the about 6,600 euros that it would provide) just because I’d rather be unemployed, not have to wake up at six in the morning, and be able to sit around in my pyjamas and write. I’d leave future me to deal with the consequences.

I don’t know what to do. I have never been sure, because I simply do not care about my well-being to any significant extent. It’s hard to do when I was convinced that I wouldn’t survive long enough to reach adulthood. I have drifted through my life getting used to whatever circumstance I ended up in. Most of the time something goes wrong, and the current example of that pattern is me losing access to as many contracts as I used to get, and likely ending up earning significantly less.

I have felt old for a long time. This afternoon I went out to take a walk and then sit at a coffee shop to listen to music and read for a while. The demographics have changed so much in the last twenty years or so that I feel like a foreigner in another country. I read for a bit at an outside table of my usual coffee shop (which I have visited for years, although I’ve never interacted with the locals except to make my order and say thank you). At one point I closed my eyes and listened to Ichiko Aoba’s gorgeous music for a couple of minutes, until some intellectually disabled woman who was walking by babbled something at me and at a group seated nearby, which broke the spell. I left shortly afterwards. I managed to write very little for the rest of the day.

I lack answers to even my own problems. All I do is work through my psychological issues on a daily basis, whether through writing or more blatantly hedonistic activities, because that makes me feel better. Meanwhile I just grow older and stranger.

Life update (09/29/2022)

I’m working afternoons this week. I suppose that people who have a social life, nevermind a family, hate working afternoons, but I’d rather always work such shifts; they allow me to write for a couple of hours first thing in the morning. Once I’ve already put in enough work to calm down whatever otherworldly demon forces me to create stuff, I can waste the rest of my energies and the afternoon at the office (until ten at night) in a sort of generally unproductive daze.

Anyway, somehow the subject came up that these last couple of months I’ve arrived late a few times, and my coworker (a kind woman with children who lives in my city) didn’t know why. I told her about the heart issues I developed (pretty sure I told her back in the day, but I guess she forgot) as well as my current knowledge about it after a visit to the cardiologist and a couple of blood tests: I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, and my left ventricle is considerably larger than normal, although without signs of myocarditis or pericarditis. Even my cholesterol levels are healty; I had suspected otherwise due to the amount of pastries I had eaten recently “for research.” The cardiologist believes that my enlarged ventricle is due to me lifting weights on-and-off since I was a teen. Who knows. I’m no athlete.

We talked for a bit about the enraging absurdity of medical professionals getting pissy about the link between these “booster vaccines”, or the original vaccines for that matter, and heart issues. There are articles online from societies of cardiologists worldwide that suggest an about four percent risk of atrial fibrillation with these jabs (among other things). My cardiologist got pissy when I stated the fact that I never experienced heart issues of any kind until the very same day I received the second “booster vaccine”: as I was building up a fever, I experienced palpitations, “heart hiccups,” that have remained to this day. Some of these professionals claim that there’s no data to support the link, then they don’t write down in the episodes the mentioned “circumstantial evidence” of the problems arising immediately after the vaccination. Very sinister shit.

One day a few months ago, as I was going through another one of my depressions (I had wished to die in my sleep that previous night, in a fucked up ritual I’ve gotten used to since I was much, much younger), and as I was wasting my morning at work, my heart went haywire with an arrhythmia that ended up landing me in the ER. They gave me some flecainide, a drug with a “black box warning” that suggests you can suffer heart attacks if you decide to take it regularly (which they suggested I did if I went through other episodes of atrial fibrillation). Fortunately, the medicine, apart from making me break in cold sweat the moment I ceased to be in a horizontal position, stopped my arrhythmia; they would have had to defibrillate me otherwise, which didn’t sound palatable.

That stuff may not sound like much to some people, but it was the worst health-related episode in my whole life so far (not counting self-destructive episodes). I’ve been paranoid about my heart failing ever since, because you are far more likely to suffer a stroke during an arrhythmia among other things, and I’ve changed how I approach stuff in my day to day: I no longer hurry to solve an issue at work, I’m far more careful when moving equipment, and I don’t want to get involved with the kind of coworkers that feed off conflict (which has made me stop talking to one of those people entirely).

The point of this entry, though, is that I ended up admitting to my coworker that I’m autistic; I was diagnosed with it in my mid-twenties, after a few other diagnoses. I have the now defunct variant of Asperger’s Syndrome (these days it’s simply considered high-functioning autism). I can’t think of any time that I haven’t regretted in one way or another admitting this autism of mine to people (online doesn’t matter, though, as for all I know, you people are imaginary); however, my life is a series of “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

My coworker reacted nonchalantly. I suspect she already knew. My brother happens to work in the same office, so maybe years ago he mentioned that his brother was autistic. I’m uncomfortable with the notion that people with whom I interact in person may treat me in strange ways because they know I’m autistic; my own parents, who are quite idiotic in general, ever since they found out that I was autistic, find it impossible to imagine that I would be able to figure out how to arrive at a destination by myself. Even after I send them a screenshot of the route and the image of the location from Google Maps, they still attempt to explain to me step by step how to get there. Again, idiots.

In any case, shortly after the chat with my coworker, a technician from a company that provides barcode scanners showed up, because some nurse had dropped the scanner to the floor of its operating room (happens relatively often), and something had ceased to work internally. I could open the machine and try to connect the cables properly (I did it once in the past), but these technicians get paid for it, so why would I bother?

Well, the reason why I would bother to deal with the barcode scanner’s internal cables myself is because otherwise I have to talk to a complete stranger, which involves me playing a role, behaving like a person completely unlike myself. After the person leaves, my skin crawls, and I feel disgusted for the basic dishonesty and degradation of having to pretend to be a complete stranger just to talk to another human being in person.

And why wouldn’t I act instinctually with humans? Because my natural reaction is to remain silent and stare blankly, and by that I mean literally uttering not a single word. I’ve had plenty of instances in the past in which someone caused trouble for me merely for the fact that I couldn’t figure out what words to come up with, usually because I was exhausted or in a bad mood. In other cases I refused to acknowledge those people, and they looked at me as if I was a ghost or Death itself. I have to walk through my decaying city at half past six in the morning five days a week, so I’ve had a few people try to get my attention. I just walk faster. Some guy working for the town hall attempted to stop me for some sort of quiz (judging by his clipboard), but I walked past without even looking at him. Behind me, the guy went, “hey, hey! Hello? Hello?! Hello!” Random people aren’t entitled to my attention.

But apart from random people and potential muggers, I recall an instance during the last time I considered that attending a writing course was a good idea: a refined-seeming woman in her early thirties, who was seated in front of me, turned around and asked me something. I don’t remember what. I merely stared at her blankly, and as my brain was working to string together a few words, the woman looked disturbed and said, “Sorry for bothering you, I didn’t mean anything by it.” Bitch, I’m retarded. Give me a fucking break. Anyway, she avoided me for the rest of the course, not that I wanted to interact with her or the other attendees anyway.

What l learned from writing courses is that most aspiring writers want to be Authors and Famous. They seek the status. They want the glitz of being present in writing-themed events. Or at least they want to meet new people. Most of them hadn’t even finished a short story in years. Many wanted to be convinced to write.

In the end I was even accused, or so I heard through the grapevine, of causing the stroke of an elderly “writing instructor” with plenty of books published. His course was fraudulent: every class was a guilt trip to get us to buy his books, and he admitted that he hadn’t read fiction in decades. To fill time, he told us to bring our own texts. It seems that my stuff disturbed him tremendously; for the last class of his I attended, he even refused to let me present more material. The texts I used to write back then were far milder than my current nonsense. Anyway, after that class, I simply quit, not only that course but the couple of others I was attending. I don’t think I’ll ever get together with writers again. They can keep sucking and licking each others’ dicks and vaginas.

Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, the notion of starting an interaction with another human being just doesn’t cross my mind. I’m receptive to others contacting me if they are interesting, but I simply lack the instinct for including people in my routines. I was the kind of child that walked around like a monk while holding a notebook, scribbling stuff, sometimes muttering to himself (I act out the scenes I write, at the very least with my facial expressions, and I rarely notice myself doing it, so I can’t write in public).

I never, ever went out of my way to make friends. Because teachers seem to be do-gooders with very little common sense, particularly those that tend to children, a few of them pushed me towards other kids, and even convinced them to call me so I would hang out with them after school. My mother’s whole intention was for me to “act normal and eventually it will become second nature” (fuck you, mom), so I was also pushed by them to hang out with randos.

That way I ended up meeting a malignant narcissist who attempted to ruin my life literally until he died in a car crash, a jock for whom bullying came naturally and innocently (he ended up becoming a soldier), coke addicts, a cat torturer, a run-of-the-mill sociopath, a pyromaniac who was also a compulsive thief (he wasn’t that bad of a guy, he just couldn’t help himself; he ended up OD-ing or killing himself), girls who wanted to feel like good people for helping a special needs kid but who were otherwise like “ew,” etc. Probably plenty of other people that I have forgotten.

I never felt like I belonged in any of those groups, because I didn’t. I was told a couple of times (in two different groups) that I was considered a sort of “corner plant.” I was there but I wasn’t. I spoke if others addressed me, but I didn’t contribute much of anything. I doubt most of them wanted me there. I recall an instance in which they passed me the controller to play GTA (the third one), and the people around me were amazed that I was able to play it properly. Of course I tried to date, mostly because I wanted to have sex, and it was a disaster. I also nearly got raped by some guy when I was fourteen, because I couldn’t tell that he only approached me for predatory purposes. Thankfully I knew the city, and he didn’t (it happened during some local festivities).

My longest romantic relationship only happened because I pushed myself to want and be something I didn’t and wasn’t. I’m not built to be anyone’s romantic partner. Paying attention to the other person felt like a chore. I recall that when we started dating, she was confused because I only wanted to meet like once a week, and it came as a shock to me that we were supposed not only to try to see each other almost every day, but keep texting each other or call each other throughout the day. Don’t other people have hobbies, interests, or even their own internal dialogues to tend to?

Regarding sex these days, VR porn is fantastic.

At times I’ve thought that if people were interesting enough, I’d care, but virtually nobody I have ever met seems as interesting as the stuff I can play out in my mind. As that Modest Mouse song put it, “I eat my own blood and get filled up.” It’s unfair for me to seek human relationships, because I’d only end up hurting those people. Spreading misery has always been one of my talents. In my circumstances, I would only consider getting a romantic partner because there’s no other reasonable way of having children, but I don’t want children in the first place (sorry, Ice Age spawns). But what kind of person who suffers from depression and autism (and OCD, etc.) would want to produce a new human being who would likely also be exposed to such torture? To me that seems like extreme cruelty.

My brain must be a mess of recursive wiring, given the amount of random nonsense that pops in and the daydreams into which it traps me. Those two fuel my writing, so that’s alright (although I shouldn’t handle heavy machinery, nor drive, nor hold babies for that matter). What isn’t fine is the daily bobbing in the maelström of thoughts and memories, usually the same ones, that force me to justify my existence, as well as face memories such as, “hey, remember that one time when you were eight years old and you wore mismatched sneakers, so other kids came to point at them and laugh?” (and that’s by far one of the mildest ones), a process that I can’t control in any way. Knowing that every new experience will end up processed into its more painful parts (usually getting rid of any good ones) with which my brain will bother me for the rest of my life has made me a let’s say cautious person.

Anyway, it’s half past seven in the afternoon and I feel as good as someone at work and who suffers from severe anxiety and a bad case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can feel. The next chapter of my current novel is going just fine, my recent period of depression has ended, and my heart hasn’t exploded yet. See ya, fuckers.

Spider Commander Versus Dinosaur-Monkey (Poetry)

There’s a hairy spider trapped in my guts;
Many-eyed, pointy-legged, sharp-fanged.
It tugs on this or that tendon as it pleases.
Sometimes its legs are sticky and slimy,
Sometimes they’re dry and rough.
This little motherfucker decides where I go.

But from time to time it makes mistakes,
Like when it pulls too hard at my heartstrings
Or my mind, and leaves them all in shreds
So there’s nothing left to hold together,
Nothing to give meaning to anything else,
As I keep spinning around in a circle.

This therapist I talked to for a while
Didn’t believe that this nasty spider
Could possibly yield me pleasure,
But I have never felt as happy
As when I hunted down relentlessly
Whatever this bastard told me to.

As a child, a version of me I resent,
Because I was an annoying little shit
(I wish I could punch him in the face,
Or better yet, drown him in a bathtub),
I was autistically obsessed with dinos.
One of my first memories involves
Me lying in bed after an operation
(My genes fucked me in many ways).
Someone bought me a triceratops toy,
And I thought it was the coolest thing.

I wish I had to deal with ancient reptiles
(Although they were more like birds)
And their primitive, murderous ways,
Than with the unreliable, nasty apes
That kept saying pointless stuff to me
As I hoped for them to leave me be,
While I played alone in a dark corner
Of our anxiety-inducing apartment,
Pretending to know about dinosaurs.

Now I’d like to meet a dinosaur
Who knows what I want better than I do.
A velociraptor who doesn’t look at me like
‘Are you okay?’, but ‘Do you want to play?’,
An einiosaurus who asks me if I’m lonely,
So he can put his arm around me
And say things that make me blush.
All I retain is a shitty imagination
In an old, broken-down body,
And a rotten brain.

Just once, I’d love to see a dinosaur
Get run over and flattened by a car
If only so I could tell random people,
Who would think I had lost my mind.
Nowadays I know better than anyone
How useless all these dinosaurs are,
So I just kill them whenever possible
With my bare hands or available guns
(They keep coming back from the dead).

Back when I was a shitty kid,
I didn’t know what a spider was,
Just that I hated so much
How it crawled inside my skin
And made its nest under my scalp.

I would love to cut open my belly
And pull out my innards
To let those spiders crawl out,
Which may then crawl into my mouth
To chew on my greasy tongue
Until I choked on blood and bile.

I can’t wait to get rid of them.
They’ve turned my guts inside out,
And the only way to make it stop
Is to crush those fucking things
In between my fingers,
Then spit on the remains
Of the bodies of these arachnids
Whose existence makes me sick,
Who fuck with my head
Making me think and feel like shit.

I’m not a fucking spider,
Yet they insist on making me one
By trapping me inside my skin,
Where I’ll rot away from within.
I am still me, and I will always be,
Even if I don’t want to be anymore.

I can hear the spider’s laughter,
Hear it screaming,
As I lie in bed at night
Trying to sleep as my thoughts spin
Around in circles of nothingness.
The spider’s laughter and screams
Keep me awake for hours on end,
My eyes wide-open with fear.

I ache for some kind of release,
But my brain won’t shut off
As the arachnid twists and tumbles,
Spinning its webs across my mind.
There’s no way to escape
This monster in my head.

At least now I can picture it,
The monster that lurks inside me:
It’s a disgusting, hairy spider
That mainly cares about keeping
Its slimy legs wrapped around me
As it nibbles on my brain tissue.

I was born a dinosaur.
I was born a human,
But I want to be a dinosaur again.
Forget the stupid ape,
Let me go back in time
And become a dinosaur.
I’ll take all the risks.
I’ll grow big and strong.
I’ll have sex with any dino.
I’ll eat a thousand babies
If that’s what I must do.

When I was thirteen, and for a whole year,
I was obsessed with this poor, pretty girl
For who I was nothing but an ugly annoyance,
A relentless weirdo with nothing to offer,
Who couldn’t even understand himself
And who was controlled, robot-like,
By the primitive forces in his brain,
Which made him act and react wildly
To a world that seemed totally foreign,
Even though he knew perfectly well
That he didn’t belong in it.

I was very much into mangas,
As well as Crichton’s sci-fi books.
There hasn’t been anyone else like him.
I read his ‘Sphere’ like a hundred times.
I guess it wasn’t that good in retrospect,
But I desperately needed that escape
From my worthless life as a turd teen.

For a few years I drew so many comics
That I thought I would sell some one day,
But the cast was a mix of existing characters
From mangas, animes and video games.
I didn’t dare create my own stuff
In case people thought it was shit.
But I got to live through those guys,
They kept me from offing myself
(I wouldn’t be here if I had a gun).

I also wrote plenty of stuff, of course,
But my mother didn’t believe in privacy;
I had to learn a whole different language
To write down my painful thoughts.
That broken woman even complained
That she couldn’t understand English.

At times I thought writing was a waste,
That I should instead spend my time playing
The only kind of game that mattered:
The one where you get to hurt yourself.

My mother often berated me
About my lack of social skills.
It’s not my fault that I was born
With this nasty monster in me.
They’re the ones who fucked up.
I didn’t need them nor their love,
So I just kept doing what I was best at:
Being a shitty teenager with no friends
Who daydreamed about hanging himself.
I wanted to live in my own bedroom
To spend every day with the shutters down.

I don’t remember a single moment
Of happiness in my whole life.
I always felt like a stranger
In my own skin.

I can’t remember all the video games,
Many of which did count as obsessions,
Because they captured my whole brain
And made it impossible to think
Of anything else except how to win
(I was sick of losing at everything else).

When that bitch cheated and left,
I spent six months of real time
Managing my local football team.
I barely slept, I rarely took showers.
I video gamed my way through pain.
I have always hated football;
My old man had headed too many balls
And lost what remained of his IQ.

After I played a tennis video game,
I became curious about those fit girls.
That was all it took for the spider to tug.
I learned everything there was to learn
About female tennis players,
At least the beautiful, sexy ones,
Particularly those from Eastern Europe,
Because I wanted to fuck them all,
And it’s hard to find good Russian porno.
I’d rather watch an erotic ballet.

For a few years, from morning to night,
I was obsessed with a Californian harpist,
And whatever I lived through in this world,
I wondered what she would have thought.
I even wrote a whole novel about her;
I didn’t have the guts to call it fanfiction.

It took seeing her in person for me to realize
That I’m nothing but a stupid, broken man
Who holds on to the first available ledge,
Because I’m too much of a coward to fall.

I’m a loser who doesn’t know when to quit.
I only have two things to offer:
My self-loathing
And my inability to understand myself.

The harpist taught me a lot, though:
She made me look inside and see the truth.
I wish she hadn’t; I got a load of new data
That I still haven’t been able to use
To make my life better.

The only times I’m grateful to the spider
That commands this decaying frame,
Are when it orders me to lose myself
By living vicariously through fiction.

Once I feel the fire of a story burning,
I forget to eat, I can’t fall asleep.
I can pull off 7,000 words a day.
Only then this world makes sense.

Too bad that I was compelled to write
At times when I had to hold down jobs.
I lost a couple of them because of that,
Because I just couldn’t give a fuck.
In fact, I’d rather be unemployed
Than have to strangle my obsessions.

I can’t wait to cut off these damn legs
That keep hurting me and making me bleed,
Because I need a dose of pure obsession
Every once in a while to remain sane
(I don’t want to be a human anymore).

I was born a dinosaur.
I am a dino, I will die a dino.
Before I was a reptile,
I was a fucking monkey.
I’ll never go back to being a man,
But I could live like one again
If I owned the right tools
To get rid of my goddamn brain.

I have no idea how I managed
To stay alive all these years.

I suppose I’m somewhat obsessed
With the many varieties of VR sex,
But I need the pleasure of coming,
Or else I won’t feel anything at all
Except the cold grip of reality
As I stare up at the ceiling.

I started a novella a few weeks ago
About this writer who became homeless
And then ended up in the future.
Although I’ve tried returning to it,
I just can’t force myself to care.
I was so invested in it at the start,
But my interest disappeared.
The fickle spider tugged me away.
At the most I can hope that I’ll return
And finish it one of these days.

I intended to list a myriad of obsessions
That have kept me going until now,
But for all of these shitty thirty six years
I have relied on the spider’s decisions,
An alien force with its own agenda,
To escape from the meaningless pain.

Only when I’m alone in a silent room
I have been able to relax and feel free,
And forget about whatever bothers me.
Then, I let that spider out of its cage,
Let it crawl up and down my self
Until it has covered me with its sticky web,
Which will then pull me into a deep trance
Where I’ll dream of inhabiting a new body,
One free of my years-old problems,
Without obsessions,
So I won’t have to worry anymore
About being sick, or getting older,
Or growing up,
Or needing someone to take care of me,
Or wanting to die.

I’m well aware how that damn spider
Came to command my broken brain.
I was born with this autism thing,
High-functioning or otherwise.
It took meeting some others in person
For me to understand how annoying
Autistic people get when they go on
About their pathological obsessions,
But I always write whatever I want,
Because I need that to remain myself.

Even if I’m not able to understand
Why the world is such a painful place,
I don’t want to waste my limited time
On things I don’t give a shit about.
So when the spider comes to tell me:
“Stop whining and become more obsessed,”
I obey,
But I still think I should be allowed to whine.

My obsessions are my friends,
They help me to see the world
Without the interference of the bullshit
All the ape bastards crammed into my brain.

I’m sure I’ll die of some terminal disease
(Alzheimer’s and cancer run in my genes).
Otherwise I’ll hang myself or jump off a cliff.
Until then, I will need to write obsessively
About whatever this spider fucker focuses on.
I have never felt like this shitty life mattered
As when I lived through someone else’s skin.

Barely anybody reads my trash,
So if you happened to read this,
I would say “Sorry for annoying you,”
But I’d rather stay silent than lie.
The truth is that I wrote this crap
Because I needed to add meaning
To another pointless workday.

If you ever meet me in real life,
Don’t hit me over the head with a shovel
(I’ve had enough of being a monkey),
And please remember to feed the spider
That inhabits my skull.

You better stop reading my stuff.
I only have worry and misery to share,
And I need that little bit of company
Even if it means a like in my screen.
So stop bothering with this bullshit
And protect your valuable brain
From the endless stream of trash
I send down this shitty old pipe.

‘Spider Commander Versus Dinosaur-Monkey’ by Jon Ureña