My #ClinicalDepression: I am not now and never will be #PaulBowles

(LATE IN THE DAY ADDENDUM – although, with me, “late in the day” is pretty much my whole life — but I digress — also pretty much my whole life. I wrote the following blogpost EARLY in the day, since which time, my marvelling via Twitter at Elizabeth McCracken‘s interview in The Huffington Post (CLICK HERE) in celebration of release of her new book, “Thunderstruck & Other Stories (CLICK HERE), resulted in the lovely Ms. McCracken answering my Tweet, and then, following me, which follow resulted in a favoriting of Tweets and a follow by Duchess Goldblatt. So, suddenly, my dysthymic dip has begun roller coaster climbing to a new high. Look out below!)

Despite it having been Patti LuPone’s birthday [CLICK HERE], yesterday was horrific.

I know, my ledes suck. Of the few agents who bothered to respond to my queries after having actually read the portions of Libertytown:The Novel, submitted, one informed me that the first twenty pages were “without event” — apparently contemplation of one’s life does not in modern literature constitute action — and the other (yes, only two have actually responded with written words; that’s what I said, TWO, in PUBLISHING, an industry in which, theoretically at least, words are currency) wrote a lovely and lengthy letter explaining that while she found beautiful my Proustian approach (which descriptive term use was almost as good as offering to represent me; almost, I said) with its ellipses and digressions and tangents, whorling and winding excursively through one aging gay man’s emotional and psychological declension, she felt my anti-hero and style would not appeal to most people in today’s world.

BOWLES and CAPOTE Emilio Sanz de Soto, Pepe Carleton, Truman Capote y Jane y Paul Bowles. Tanger 1949

Emilio Sanz de Soto, Pepe Carleton, Truman Capote, Jane and Paul Bowles in Tangier

Tell me about it. A pithier exegesis of my life experience was never writ.

And some days, well, like yesterday, said synopsis hits home like a spiritual migraine, eviscerating anew previously untouched nerves and heart-muscle while all those nerves and heart-muscle previously bruised in past attacks throb again in sympathy, until the new pain and the echoes and reverberations of the old pains, result in this cacophonous ache of discovery. Or, as my former friends (or, as I like to call them, “people who used me until my usefulness was no more and there was nothing left of me to suck dry”) would say, “It’s about time he faced the truth about himself.”

The truth. Oh, that.

The truth, which I yesterday discovered while sitting in a coffee shop where I landed after having spent sixty minutes on cardio equipment at a gym where I was subjected to the adolescent sniggering of two out-of-shape, “no one would ever come on to you so get over yourself” type men on their way to the showers making “don’t drop the soap” jokes. Have I mentioned how much I hate heterosexual, out-of-shape aging men who are CONVINCED that because they have a penis EVERY GAY MAN IN THE WORLD will want them? We won’t.

Which is one truth, but not the one I was forced about myself to face while in the coffee shop. No.

It was — and this really, REALLY hurts — and here it is, the Tweet I Tweeted from said shop in which I was, and yes, it’s definitely about time I did, facing the truth about myself:

I must face the horrible tragic awful irrefutable truth that I am, in fact, not now & never have been nor will I ever be the new Paul Bowles

Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles

Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles

I’d brought with me the Sunday New York Times. Carrot/Horse thing. I felt myself beginning the long dissolve, declension, decomposition, deterioration, disintegration, deliquescing into a dysthymic low when I woke Monday morning and I know how this goes, so I had promised myself that if I went to the gym and did my cardio I could go to the coffee shop and write there, but first, before that effort to write, I could read the Sunday Times sections I had saved: Travel, Arts, and BOOK REVIEW! Well, I never made it out of Travel. Authors writing about London, Italy, and Venice finished me.

I’m not going to make it to London, Italy, or Venice. This struck me with some vigorous and sniggering out-of-shape heterosexual man mockery as I drank my Americano from the trendy Mason Jar in which this place serves its cold drinks. I am going to die in Frederick having never achieved a journey overseas, never having visited Wuthering Heights, never having had a drink with Joan Didion, nor having been mentioned as irrelevantly Proustian in the New York Times Book Review.

All of this, yesterday, exacerbated by my irritation at being subjected to the banality of overheard cellphone blather, which, it then occurred to me, was no less uninteresting than my life. Double negative.

And too, this being my first time at this particular coffee shop – what the fuck with the Mason jar glasses? I mean, didn’t this area – by which I mean Frederick – spend the last thirty years or so trying to outgrow drinking from mayonnaise and pickle jars and our Hatfield-McCoy backwoods ways? Now, of a sudden, it’s trendy? Please shoot me — I mean, if Mason jar glassware is back, can the hillbillies be far behind?

You see how this goes?

This is a downward spiral (leading to another downward spiral called a “corkscrew” which I then use to open too many bottles of too cheap wine so as to avoid — you know, finally truth-facing myself) down the volute of which I bleed my way, beating myself for having been brainwashed into believing the nearly theological cultural allure of the necessity of becoming “other” — to have bought into worshipping the transformative power of ambition, unquestioning admiration and envy of having achieved the American dream of becoming consequential because one has been anointed so by Zeitgeistian whim.


I mean, you see where this goes. Please, tell me you do. My Zeitgeitsian whim of a fantasy life didn’t even include lots of money and fame. I just wanted to be Paul Bowles. In my rather carefully cultivated and curated circle of acquaintance, perhaps three or four of my cohort know who Mr. Bowles is, and maybe one of them has read his work. As for Jane? I doubt even one has read her collection. My point being, it doesn’t seem a terrible lot to ask to have the truth I was finally facing about myself being one that could include some measure of Bowles-ian reality, does it?

Bowles& Mrabet

Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles

By which I don’t mean that as I am slinking away from my latest disaster of a Tangier-looking CraigsList trick who’s debased himself with the inane (and patently false) promise of “Masc Mixed Top” and ended up begging to bottom (at least I am not alone in not finally facing the truth about myself) that I will pretend I am Bowles and he is Mohammed Mrabet; no, that is NOT the part of Bowles life I want. Nor do I wish that perhaps this Moroccan looking fellow will join me in the mutual delusion of distrust and expectation of painful dishonesty — those two primary foundational tenets of a mendacious faithlessness we’ll mistake for love until we nearly destroy one another by, you know, not finally facing the truths about ourselves — and PRETEND we are happy whilst my lesbian life-partner looks on from a distance muttering disapproval. No. I want to publish ONE FUCKING THING like Pages from Cold Point.

Is that too much to ask?



Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet

Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet

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