the deep end
I’m not sure if Ms. Wurtzel has gone off the deep end, but just like in Bitch, she can still write some great passages:
It had all gone wrong. At long last, I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24. Stubbornly and proudly, emphatically and pathetically, I had refused to grow up, and so I was becoming one of those people who refuses to grow up—one of the city’s Lost Boys. I was still subletting in Greenwich Village, instead of owning in Brooklyn Heights. I had loved everything about Yale Law School—especially the part where I graduated at 40—but I spent my life savings on an abiding interest, which is a lot to invest in curiosity. By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. If you don’t have the imposition of family to remind you of what is at stake, something else will. I was alone in a lonely apartment with only a stalker to show for my accomplishments and my years.
I was amazed to discover that, according to The Atlantic, women still can’t have it all. Bah! Humbug! Women who have it all should try having nothing: I have no husband, no children, no real estate, no stocks, no bonds, no investments, no 401(k), no CDs, no IRAs, no emergency fund—I don’t even have a savings account. It’s not that I have not planned for the future; I have not planned for the present. I do have a royalty account, some decent skills, and, apparently, a lot of human capital. But because of choices I have made, wisely and idiotically, because I had principles or because I was crazy, I have no assets and no family. I have had the same friends since college, although as time has gone on, the daily nature of those relationships has changed, such that it is not daily at all. But then how many lost connections make up a life? There is my best friend from law school, too busy with her toddler; the people with whom I spent New Year’s in a Negril bungalow not so long ago, all lost to me now; every man who was the love of my life, just for today; roommates, officemates, classmates: For everyone who is near, there are others who are far gone.
Please understand: I live specifically, with intent. The intent is, I know now, not at all specific, except that I have no ability to compromise. Most people say that as a statement of principle, but in my case, it is about feeling trapped when I am doing something I don’t like, and it is probably more childish than anything else. I likely do the right things for the wrong reasons. But it has also meant that I have not disciplined myself into the kinds of commitments that make life beyond the wild of youth into a haven of calm. I am proud that I have never so much as kissed a man for any reason besides absolute desire, and I am more pleased that I only write what I feel like and it has been lucrative since I got out of college in 1989. I had the great and unexpected success of Prozac Nation in 1994, and that bought me freedom. And I have spent that freedom carelessly, and with great gratitude. Why would I do anything else? I did not expect, not ever, to be scared to death.
I was born with a mind that is compromised by preternatural unhappiness, and I might have died very young or done very little. Instead, I made a career out of my emotions. And now I am just quarreling with normal. I believe in true love and artistic integrity—the kinds of things that should be mentioned between quotation marks—as absolutely now as I did in ninth grade. But even I know that functional love includes a fair amount of falsity, or no one would get through morning coffee, and integrity is mostly a heroic excuse to avoid the negotiating table. But I can’t let go. I live in the chaos of adolescence, even wearing the same pair of 501s. As time goes by.
She put saved me Prozac Nation, until then I thought I was an aberration(well maybe I am) and twenty years later I am still identifying. Glad I aint alone. Thank you Bitter Babe and Elizabeth Wurtzel.
Or…”She saved me with Prozac Nation…” damn you copy and paste.
I don’t remember Prozac Nation as well as Bitch, but I thought the latter was provocative and, in places, brilliant. I’m not sure about her mental health these days though– her pieces have veered from one thing to another, sometimes in a contradictory way. I’ll see what I can dig up…
Oh God, that could mean I am gone over the edge too…I havente read anything since PN. Anyway, thanks, I’ll have a look.
I’ve read all her books and enjoyed parts of all of them. I’m sure you are not going over the edge! I think, though, it’s a worry for all of us living nontraditional lives.
True, its hard to plot a life alone, hard to know if we are doing it ‘right’ when there are few role models or at least few who dare write about it maybe. Skimmed a few of your links and sort of disturbed by how shes attacked but haven’t read enough to know if its deserved. Thanks for the links.
I too thought some of the Jezebel attacks were over the top, but if you read through them there are some comments defending her and/or her writing as well (with some reservations).
Oh I did so enjoy the wurtzel-has-finally-lost it page. I found the comments on the whole to be marvellous, and I’ve had such a good laugh.
Unfortunately for Wurtzel, I’ve never read anything of hers other than what was presented on that (and this) page, and what was presented on that page makes her look nuttier than squirrel poop, and equally as deep.
Caitlin’s rule of thumb for sexism is spot on though. And I’m pretty sure men are not worrying about applying $30 lip balm and walking miles in Marni’s five-inch platform T-straps.