On Losing Everything, Part Two
June 3, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
So, what are my thoughts on Ryan Kelly Chamberlain’s letter about losing everything? I think it’s a joke. He’s a joke.
Don’t get me wrong: His depression is certainly real. But how he handled his problems is sickeningly self-indulgent.
Today a fat, fabulously wealthy bastard told me I was too angry, and I need to laugh and be happy. He’s not angry because he’s rich and has the Bible to comfort him.
Also, he has a vested interest in things going south right now, because the worse people feel, the more he can profit from it through his Website, his punditry, and his speaking engagements.
I’m not that guy. This isn’t a post about how Ryan Kelly Chamberlain should’ve felt. Nobody has any right to tell anyone else how they should feel about anything. This is a post about how Ryan Kelly Chamberlain should’ve been proactive about his feelings, and what he shouldn’t have done. His words and actions trivialize the genuine horror that uncounted people experience.
Right off the bat, I can tell you that Chamberlain is a profoundly ungrateful person. His many friends mean nothing to him. That endless letter was so rotten with histrionic self-pity that I could smell it through my computer. And why is he down to $5000? He’s a political consultant living in the most expensive city in the US. His Twitter feed indicates that he blew every penny on bar hopping, eating out, and techie gizmos. Stupid.
Ryan, I lost everything I ever loved too. I also lost my health and most of my eyesight. Today I went and voted.
Guess what I had to do at the polling place? I had to tell them that my mother is dead, so they need to take her name off the rolls. It took a little paperwork. Reason for removing name? the form asked.
“Deceased” was what they told me to write.
Such a bizarre term. Wouldn’t “decease” mean “unstop?” Whenever I hear the word, I think of a Monty Python routine in which Terry Jones’s voice reads the following letter to the editor.
How splendid it is to see the flower of British manhood wiping itself out with such pluck and tenacity. Britain need have no fear with leaders of this calibre. If only a few of the so-called working class would destroy themselves so sportingly.
Brigadier Mainwaring Smith Smith Smith etc. (Deceased)
Mom loved Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers. I keep forgetting she’s deceased. She’s stopped, not unstopped. Every day I see something I want to tell her about, and I remember with a jolt that I can’t.
What I’m left with, Ryan, is my memory of her holding the proof copy of Chasing the Last Whale in her trembling hands. I knew she wouldn’t leave the room alive. You can’t reach your mother, Ryan? Try spending six fucking months trying to talk her out of committing suicide, and then having to watch helplessly as she panics when she realizes it’s actually going to happen.
Wilfred Owen was a British soldier killed in World War One. His most famous poem is “Dulce et Decorum Est.” In this segment he describes a man being killed with poison gas.
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime. . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
Every time I go to sleep, Ryan, I have unspeakable nightmares about my parents. I’m still processing their lives, their secrets, and their suicides.
Like you, Ryan, I had a great love. She drove me away when I told her my own secrets. It was a very efficient campaign. She knew just what to say and do to make me leave. When I was safely gone, she apologized for everything she said, and then she married a man who gave her wealth and social status. I never hated her, though. It took me about sixteen years to figure why she did what she did: Her tolerance for anathema was nonexistent.
I can admit it: I am anathema to the healthy. It’s the law of nature. The sick are to be avoided.
Here’s the photo that my former great love insisted I include in Ghosts and Ballyhoo.
Even cropped to protect her identity, you can see that things don’t appear to have gone the way they should’ve. It’s a ghastly image. Though I haven’t seen her in over twenty years, it’s as if I left her this morning.
What did you do, Ryan, to address your depression and emptiness? Did you seek medical attention? I was sure that 2013 would mark a new beginning for me, but what happened was both my parents committed suicide, and I hooked up with fake publicists who robbed me of my life’s saving and destroyed the book that I knew in my gut would put me on the literary map. It’s now as dead as my parents.
At the beginning of this year, a person I considered one my closest friends brutally and selfishly ended our relationship because he knew too much about me, and I knew too much about him. He prefers the make-believe world he’s created for himself. I have no place in it.
These things happen, Ryan. Did I build a bomb? Did I write a letter that would make a thirteen-year-old girl blush? Did I lead the cops on a half-assed chase through my city, drinking beer and then pretending to resist arrest?
No, because there’s no glamor in failure, Ryan. I’m not a romantic figure. I hate this shit. You think you can’t catch a break? Try being a dizzy, vomiting fifty-one-year-old starting his writing career over for the fourth time.
That’s life. It’s pure chance. You ask what we did to “deserve” our fates; the answer is “Nothing.” Misfortune simply occurs. But every single day—every second—is a new opportunity. What keeps me going is clarity and beauty. That’s all I need. The inside of my head works fine. It allows me to appreciate every nice thing said to me or done for me.
You’re a loser, Ryan. I’m sorry you chose this pitifully melodramatic way to demonstrate how unhappy you are. I own guns; I could go out and shoot up the street if I wanted, but I’m not evil.
That long, absurd letter you wrote made me think of one of my all-time favorite songs—Beck’s “Deadweight.”
On a highway
Going my way
You’re so alone today
Like a ghost town
There’s no relief
No salt in the sea
Is it true what they say
You can’t behave
You gamble your soul away
Measuring your dreams
Oh this life seems
Like the gristle of loneliness
Don’t let the sun catch you crying
Don’t let the sun catch you crying
Sometimes we feel totally alone, Ryan. It’s like we’re in a ghost town, and there’s no relief.
But I can behave, I refuse to gamble my soul away, and I never let the sun catch me crying.
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