• I would love to be way more auto-biograph-y than I've ever been on here. I'm being serious. I know I go on about it. Fact is, it scares me. And trouble is, I think the fear is rational. I mean, if I "make it" as a writer, all bets are off: I can talk about whatever-the-fuck and, sure, I guess in theory I could alienate enough people that it fucked up my career, but at a certain point you've got to have faith in what you're talking about, right? Whereas now, when I'm losing money every month and only hoping to have a career I can fuck up, what happens if I post something incriminating or embarrassing that would register as interesting if it were written by a writer but would register as awkward and inappropriate if it were written by, say, someone applying for a normal-person job? (Like if I ever wanted to go back into teaching? Yeesh.) Of course, Ariel Schrag had the guts to dig deep and share some of her most intense personal and sexual thoughts and experiences with the goddamned world, and that was before she was an established writer or cartoonist, wasn't it? I'd like to dismiss that as, "Yeah, but she was in high school, high-schoolers don't know what the hell they're doing, their fuckin' brains aren't developed yet," but come on. Really what even that boils down to is that I'm more cowardly than a 17-year-old.
• Why do I identify so much with the experiences of a teenage lesbian? Two obvious answers are: (1) it's just a version of the universal human experience, and (2) Ariel Schrag's a good writer and good writers can make you identify with just about anything. But I think there's another factor.
What makes the experience of a gay kid different from the experience of a straight kid when love and sex are involved—and here of course I'm speaking out of near-total ignorance, but let's go for it—has got to have a lot to do with the basic confusion and excitement and emotional turmoil's being supplemented by an additional layer of all-of-the-above. For example, you don't only have to worry about whether your girlfriend likes you as much as you like her, but you also have to worry about (e.g.) whether she might actually be essentially straight and not like girls as much as you do. And the mere fact that fumbling teenaged heterosexuality has at least some degree of monolithic societal encouragement behind it has got to make an enormous difference: trying to figure out who you are sexually when there's all this bigotry on the one hand and ignorance/indifference on the other, a societal sense that maybe you're doing something fundamentally wrong or at least incomprehensible...especially if you were growing up in the 20th century, but even today...
But so why do I identify? I think it's because I'm so freakishly introspective and analytical that I make the uncomplicated complicated; I'm pathologically skeptical of received wisdom and common sense, which is in many ways a positive trait but also is in so many ways self-defeating (at best). What I'm getting at is that I think the way my brain works, I see a straightforward statement and read it like a sphinx's riddle; I take relatively unchallenging situations and experience them like an unprecedented intellectual adventure. E.g., it came to pass at a certain point, a while back, that I realized I had been sexually active for a decade and had slept with several women and yet in some fundamental and very real sense did not believe that any woman would sleep with me. Do you follow that? There's intellectual knowledge and what you believe with your heart; for a while there, the fact that I had had girlfriends did nothing to convince me that I could ever have one. I was like the redhead vampire in True Blood whose hymen closes back up after every time she has sex: I just couldn't get rid of my virginity no matter what I did. A basic and unconfusing love life came across to me as a mystifying puzzle.
I'm over that now, but my point is that I think the reason why I identified so much with a teenage lesbian's early romantic experiences is that I unnecessarily complicated a relatively simple situation and lived my straight-boy's life almost as if I were a gay girl. That's probably bullshit, by the way, but not 100% bullshit. My new way of getting at the truth is like sketching: innumerable wrong-looking lines that get at the shape you want to reveal. Am I just saying that the teenage lesbian experience is like the teenage straight experience but amplified? And that I amplify everything? I think that's what I'm saying.
Honestly it's probably just that Potential's really good.
P.S. Homosexuality is a sin against God.