writing: in these years, we just give up

When I woke up my teeth were sticky with plaque; this is the fourth or maybe the sixth time this week I have woken up and remembered that last night, I did not brush my teeth. Last night, I did not do anything, except lie on the floor and eat the chocolate taffy from Wisconsin and read pornographic fan-fiction. I have never been to Wisconsin. My boyfriend went once, my last boyfriend, and he said it was fairly shit. But then he was an old money/ big city kind of person, the type of asshole who will make a billion dollars by screwing people over and then get a postmortem biopic directed by some other asshole who also made a billion dollars by screwing people over and sometimes just screwing them. Both assholes will live on in American infamy. I am also an asshole, technically, if you consider my usual way of speaking and talking to people. Also my self-care habits: I am an asshole to myself. Sometimes, I watch those “get ready with me” youtube vlogs and silently despair: where is my evening routine? My skincare routine? The cleanser and exfoliator I’ve been using recently and just loving? When do I half-smile and pull my hair into a stringy, silky ponytail and say well, I’ll be real with you, this week has been SO hard, but you all have been SO supportive. Remember, mental health is important. It is so important. I agree that mental health is important, but functionally, it is something more like opportunity cost. You do the things you can at the cost of everything you can’t do, and silently hate yourself the whole time for not doing everything. It’s sometimes easier to not do anything and then throw out the lingering self-guilt and failed ambitions and live in a small apartment with half a college degree and five potted plants. My boyfriend, the rich asshole, hated this kind of attitude. He always used to despair at me, as if I was the literal object of his despair — and he would use that exact language, too, saying: Katelyn, I despair for you. This is why you’re poor. You need to do something with your life, Katelyn. Get off the floor and take a class or something. Read a book. This is why you’re fucking poor. I was very proud at my response to him: well, I said, at least I don’t fuck poorly. Of course, three minutes later I was standing at the windowsill and leaning my body into the cement and the brick, going slowly wet as he drove off in his prissy red car. The car was a point of great contention in our relationship. No Katelyn, I can’t drive us up to Wisconsin in my car. Why can’t we take your car? My car is shit, I told him. I’m the poor one in this relationship, so why do I have to pay for gas? Katelyn, he said, I can pay for the fucking gas, okay? But I’m not damaging my car. Oh, so your car is more important than us having fun? I just wanted a fun trip with my boyfriend. But I guess that’s too much to ask. I guess I’ll be the one driving. Why can’t you drive and have fun, Katelyn? And he shook his head at me meaningfully, his eyes looking nice and brown and vaguely like wine corks. This is your entire problem. You always want other people to take control. Why can’t you drive the car and have fun? I was looking at his eyes and going vaguely soft between the legs. Fine, I said, I’ll drive, but can we please fuck? Because of course I was lying earlier; he fucked quite well. He fucked better than the main lead in my current pornographic fanfic, who is far too fond of biting the heroine’s neck and “chuckling throatily with her blood drenching his neck” to have a proper grasp of the rights and wrongs of bed etiquette. The heroine also moans and whimpers too much, but I do the same, really, so I can’t complain. My boyfriend did fuck me, quite nicely, not biting my neck but mouthing at my collarbone and muttering angrily about Nietzsche and the postmodern sex appeal of poverty. I was used to this commentary; anyway, I was under no delusions about the underlying nature of his attraction to me. Afterwards, we lay on my bed with the fraying JC Penny clearance sheets, bought after Christmas and covered in small men skying, most of their face distorted by weeping threads. Have you ever skied? he asked. A couple of times, I said. There was a ski day at my school, but I usually pretended to be sick and just did the make-up essay instead. Why? he laughed and it was only half condescending. I just fucking hated skiing, I said. It’s really not complicated. My life isn’t that complicated. I thought, he said, it would have been something like your parents couldn’t afford to rent the equipment. My parents live in the suburbs, I said. My mother quilts as a hobby and my father builds miniature warplanes and resells them and they vacation once a year in Florida or Texas. Sometimes the Mediterranean if there’s a good cruise sale. Very middle class, my boyfriend said, looking skeptically at my almost bare walls and the few pieces of art I did have. By the way, what the fuck are those paintings supposed to be? My friend did them, I said. In college. They’re some of the first ladies from the 1800s, the wives of the presidents nobody remembers, only their painted like mulatto and tribal women. It’s supposed to be political, I guess. He laughed: How very stereotypical. Well, the last I heard from her, she’s selling cocaine and she wants to abolish the police. You need nicer friends, he said. What about your friends? I could meet your friends. I don’t know any of your friends. I briefly imagined it: tall, beautiful people in navy peacoats with leather briefcases and styled hair, sipping champagne in London and Hong Kong and talking about another divorce, another merger, the fucking stocks won’t go up, neither will his penis, it must be the foreign nanny. My boyfriend laughed and rolled back on top of me. Katelyn, you’ll never meet them, he said, and fucked me again.

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