Writing in HTML Giant, Rhys Nixon noted that the writing in Heiko Julien‘s I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death “is able to simultaneously make one laugh, and feel something not unlike sadness; we become the inner looking narrator to our own lives. What Heiko is able to do is truly capture our experiences of engaging with the world through the internet, and what we call ‘the real world.’” We are pleased to present several selections from Julien’s book, out this week on Civil Coping Mechanisms.
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You know how dogs aren’t really smiling, they’re just panting? And they don’t really kiss you, they just lick your face because they like salt? A lot of things are like that. I am like that.
People like dogs because they usually look happy. You can do this too. Dogs aren’t always happy and neither are you.
There are a lot of things I really really want so I am smiling. I am smiling like I don’t want to die alone.
We are smiling at each other like we don’t want to die alone. This is probably the right thing to do.
c h a p t e r 1
My zen so fresh don’t never catch me not being real no no.
Our ideal western courtship begins:
See me inventing new yoga moves in the McDonald’s Playplace. Ask me out to dinner at a different McDonald’s.
Save the date for our Fast Food Wedding.
Preacher wears the drive-thru headset.
Ring bearer rolls up to the second window and delivers the ring.
Bride and groom’s families in the main dining area.
Kids in the ball pit.
c h a p t e r 2
I want straight up bliss. Want you to pour warm water down the back of my shirt while I’m at work and I’ll pretend to get mad and then we go home.
Push me off a cliff, and here’s the twist: The inside of the canyon is full of the stuff dreams are made of. Talking every Nirvana CD down here.
Human beings will be back in the forests sooner than we think, ripping bark off of trees and crushing skulls on rocks. It’s a comforting thought. Stick with me and I’ll show you everything I know about how to make cool jpgs on the computer and also true love. I will take care of you even though I don’t believe in that sort of thing.
The Native Americans used to use every part of the buffalo.
Including the pink slime.
Just wander out into a cornfield and eat some corn.
This is America.
This is God’s country.
c h a p t e r 3
Pitching a TV pilot where I teach kids how to live cool lives by learning to enjoy common things like putting their shoes on slowly and drinking water in real-time.
Like to think I could pull off a certain post-9/11 Mr. Rogers vibe. Fancy myself an otaku Captain Kangaroo. Steampunk Mr. Wizard and all I want from you is actual friendship.
But I’m still.
Real Life Bart Simpson.
Yeah I’m throwing cats into a basketball hoop by their tails.
Haha. pizza for breakfast.
I’ll never die.
c h a p t e r 4
Here is an interesting scenario: You are trapped on an elevator with the guy who did the voice of the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Nick Bakay) and he wants to talk about race.
Just stay cool. We just stay cool together.
And we are dancing.
Like we know people.
Want to take our money.
And kill us.
And we still think they are beautiful.
c h a p t e r 5
Hot Tip: Everything in life can be quantified positively or negatively.
Your friend says hello to you: +5 pts
Your mom thinks you are mad at her: -10 pts
You watch an episode of Frasier on Netflix with your brother and identify with the main characters because they are also brothers: +10 pts
You don’t have a very close relationship with your adult siblings: -15 pts
You know your dad doesn’t like your music very much: -15 pts
He pretends that it is all right but just not for him: +5 pts
Sometimes I feel like everything I’m doing and saying is a rude parody of the truth and my reward for this witty satire is being sad.
You can say things to me like, “You understand me,” and I will smile and nod and the sound will work its way through me. I’ll get the general idea and we may bond. We’re alone together for a reason. You can tell me I am Perfect and I will smile and you may or may not stare into my iris and it might possibly start to look like the surface of another planet, or nebula even, if that’s where it takes you. Or it might not. I won’t know unless you tell me. Tell me so I can get the general idea and I can smile and nod and we can be there. We are here alone together for a reason, after all. Memories of love or lack of love travel through you at the sound of the word I just said, anchored by the heaviest gaze you can even sit with. The heavier we get the more we lie together, weighed down by words we’ve shared, tiny oral expressions passed ceaselessly back and forth for hours. This is how we’ve always tried to get out of ourselves and into each other.
I have used language precisely and in a way that communicated abstract thought before. Did it do me any good? I wouldn’t feel remotely qualified to say.
“I would quit or join the Beatles for you.”
Certain people are going to get you. They are going to take you, even. Take you away, and you’re going to give yourself up. You’re going to give yourself up willingly to them, these people who want you, because you are going to want to, more than mostly anything, I imagine. Maybe they will do things to you no one else has tried yet and even more people will happen. Maybe you will raise their children and maybe you’ll resent them for it while your hot, young life fades fast.
What I’m saying is you could texturize me. I could fade you. We could spend all weekend together in my treehouse. We can blend together. I’ve melted before and had little to show for it. A person can get poured out after a while. I’ve seen it happen. It’s as simple as being left up on a shelf or out on a table, someone just comes along and cleans you up after a bit. Can’t blame someone for wanting to keep their space tidy and I’m not sure how else one ought to deal with goo. No, I don’t want to melt anymore. What I’m looking for is a sort of mosaic experience. I want to be woven, is what I’m saying. It’s a craft we can do around the house, master together in our own time, but once you’re strapped in, you’re hooked. You’re attached.
I once saw feral cats mating when I lived on a farm in Hawaii. If you are not familiar with cat mating, that may be because domesticated cats usually go about it privately. Wild cats apparently don’t, they did it right in front of us while their kittens watched in the backyard. An important thing to understand is that the male cat’s member can be described like the spikes in a parking garage that come up to keep you from backing in. He enters and the prongs come out and there is no going back without consequence. I watched them with their kittens and the female’s yowling rose from a low purr to a furious screech. He finished and she bit him and that was that. A violent act for sure, but what isn’t? Have you gotten so far removed from what you are going through, what you are, that you don’t realize in the very fiber of your being that all human interaction is political? Are you so shallow and lost that this seems tragic? If this makes you feel sad then you deserve it. It’s the vibration of your goddamn soul collapsing in on itself and you need to fight it fiercely, a lot. Yes, I am certain that even when my mother was changing my lil’ baby diapers it was political to a certain degree.
There are consequences for you and me. My neighbor told me, “I can’t be the guy at the bottom of the stairs holding the flowers anymore.” I can’t either but I miss how awful it felt. The fact of the matter is I don’t know who I was 7 years ago. That’s the good thing about pain, you don’t have to take it personally. It can create as intimate an experience as you want and you can build your own pyramids in you. Make your nervous system your ally, make your demons your slaves, and you can love me if you want. It’s not my problem. Gandhi once told his wife he couldn’t tell her that he loved her more than any other person because it wouldn’t be fair. If you are intrigued and are wondering how you too can become this much of a baller, I will tell you how.
Be genuinely nice to people without expecting anything in return so they in turn assume your emotional energy is free and spend it freely. Love unconditionally until you get tired and stop. This is what is sometimes called a “long con,” but if you are going to do anything well it is going to have to be done consistently over time. If you can convince a woman to marry you, imagine what else you could persuade her to do. Imagine what she will be able to convince you to do. Over time, both of your sexual orientations transform into the pained, anxious expressions on your faces when you aren’t sure if you’re going to get everything you want at a store. And you’ve chosen to feel bad about it. Will you perform unfathomable acts of cruelty to protect your dear, sweet ego? Wow, maybe.
But what if you weren’t here?
What I’m saying is, you aren’t and that’s why it’s so important to be here, now.
I will tell you I love you if that’s what you want to hear. I will mean it if that’s what you need. Don’t take this the way it seems. We can have our love first and constructs second. You know that everything we do together is essentially an exchange of energy, right? People treat their energy differently. We have varying expectations of how much we think we deserve to receive and how much we are willing to give and what I’m saying is I want to figure it out with you.