Come in and know me better, man:

I feel obligated once again to declare that I often get the sense that I am dead and this is Hell. I’ll look around and everything seems familiar enough . . . this is my apartment, and that’s my face in the mirror, and on and on . . . and yet I feel an uncanniness or a falseness to it all, that this is the shadow version of my life I experienced while living. At some point along the way, god only knows when, my life as I knew it ended, and I awoke into the dream of Hell and unknowingly kept going along as if time had not stopped flowing. And really, wouldn’t that be the perfect Hell? That the dreamer does not realize he is dreaming? Imagine the torture you could inflict upon someone when they think they are at home inside their own life, when in reality it’s a perfect recreation of it, only slanted in some nebulous way behind the scenes for diabolical purposes, ones which forever remain a mystery to them . . .

And what makes it that much worse is that when something Good is dangled in front of me, and it looks as though things will soon get better or else change completely, only for the thing, whatever it was, to vanish without a trace. To continually renew and then dash someone’s hopes . . . that is the perfect way to keep an unwitting prisoner distracted for all eternity.

To quote Mad Max himself:


Well, then I guess I’m going insane!!!!

For instance, I keep thinking I’m about to meet new people, or really just see any of my friends here in Berlin, like it’s imminent and right in front of me . . . and then it never ends up happening. What I’m saying is that I’ve been ghosted about a dozen times now and I’m trying not to take it personally. I keep rolling the boulder up the hill but it’s beginning to feel pathetic to reach out anymore. I used to be quite good at this. I reckon I could chalk it up to circumstance, which is the reasonable explanation for pretty much anything that ever happens. But I tried being reasonable once . . . I didn’t like it very much. And anyway, isn’t it more fun to just think that I’m actually being psychologically terrorized by the unseen and unaccountable old joker? If it’s a great cosmic joke, then I only wish I could see it clearly, and then I could laugh at myself and make terms with it. The problem is that I can’t see anything at all anymore. I’ve never felt this lost or hollow in my whole life.

I am reminded of the words of one of the old masters:

A whirl of travel drove me afresh over the earth; fresh sufferings were heaped up, and fresh guilt. And every occasion when a mask was torn off, an ideal broken, was preceded by this hateful vacancy and stillness, this deathly constriction and loneliness and unrelatedness, this waste and empty hell of lovelessness and despair, such as I had now to pass through once more.

If I am trapped in the endless dream which is called Hell, then last night I had a series of dreams within the dream of Hell. Nearly all of them were stressful, and caused me to wake up in a cold sweat before falling back asleep into another dream . . . but in one of them, I was at the In-N-Out Burger along I-5 at the midpoint between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, the one in Kettleman City with the Old West facade. I was with Laura. It was nighttime and the parking lot was full like it always is, and we were walking back to the car and talking. In the dream, I knew Monty was waiting for us in the car, and that the three of us were on our way down to LA like we used to do every year before the pandemic ruined the world. I told Laura that I hated my job and that I wanted to quit so that I could travel around and see all my friends again. I told her I’d been so lonely. She said, “You should just do it then.”

I sat up in near-darkness and heard only my fan oscillating on the other side of my apartment. I’d been sucked out of the dream as if through an air-tight tube . . . a dream which had contained all the things I currently wish for: to quit my job which I hate, to see my friends, and to travel through California with them at night. I hadn’t bothered to set an alarm, and looking at my phone I saw that it was near five in the afternoon. I stood up and pulled the black curtain from my balcony door. Sunlight shone through the bamboo blinds and filled the room with golden light. I had wasted yet another Sunday. There was nothing left to do other than to make coffee and wonder if I’d ever get laid again.

Longtime readers will no doubt recall that I have been melodramatically proclaiming myself to be cursed for over a decade now. Am I suggesting that my luck is worse than the average person? I don’t know. And perhaps you could rightly argue that my bad luck has nothing to do with luck at all—that instead the misfortune that comes with the job of being me is my own doing and is thus self-perpetuated. I would believe that too. Or perhaps it is a combination of both. I like believing in luck, even if it’s bullshit. It feels more fun that way, and I reckon it’s mostly harmless. Anyway, I wonder at my luck, and if what I had of it has finally run out.

Has some hidden entity cursed me—the unseen and unaccountable old joker I mentioned before? Did I, midway upon the journey of our life, slight some evil deity? Or was I hexed by someone flesh and blood? I can think of one or two people who may have put a hex on me, although it would make me sad if that was the case. I have no enemies, but maybe a long time ago someone had a good reason to call upon dark forces to haunt me for the rest of my life. And in failing to undo the hex, then I cannot be rid of it. It is branded on my forehead and can only be seen through the veil that separates this world from the other one. But I cannot see.

If I were take off my Good Time Hat and face the music, then I would be forced to conclude that the call is coming from inside the house. The enemy is me. The hex is simply the total sum of all the stupid choices I make and will unwittingly repeat until the end of time . . . and maybe even longer than that . . .

Whether I am hexed or dead and dreaming in Hell, or simply breathtakingly stupid and thus too stupid to live, I don’t know. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But what I do know is that I feel horribly alone in that same implacable murky way that has touched every other corner of my life. I’m so lonesome I could cry. I am remembering now another dream I had last night, that I was holding and being held by this girl I know . . . the sort of dream you feel vaguely ashamed of and yet immediately long to go back to when you wake from it, as I did. Why oh why couldn’t I have just stayed there? Instead I jolted back into this waste and empty hell of lovelessness and despair. I awoke to a stillness that made me feel nauseous. No girl beside me and no Dante standing on my chest and purring and waiting to be fed . . . just the shadow version of myself crawling alone through the shadow version of my life. Where are you now when I need your noise? The walls close in and I need some noise.