Looking For Love In My Heart (The Queen Bee of Ruthlessness)

January 27, 2008 at 8:07 pm (frightening things, proclamations, stupidity) ()

I overheard something yesterday.

A not-very-close friend of mine was explaining to a professor of ours why she’s leaving our little art school after this semester, to go somewhere where she can study commercial design and advertising. Paraphrasing closely:

“Ten years from now I want to be on the 38th floor of a high rise, in an office with the walls all made of glass, with a personal assistant.”

I wish the social landscape had been a little different — we were in a busy, noisy lobby, during a short intermission — so I could have responded somehow. I wanted to say, “That’s the perfect opposite of where I want to be ten years from now.* Is that really what you want? Is that really the zenith of your dreams?”

I couldn’t do this, though, so I swallowed her sentence. I sat with it. I felt it sink into my stomach. I began to brood.

An hour later, after the performance**, I brought this up in the car with my girlfriend. I began to rant, to grumble, to mock this girl, her innocence, malevolence, laziness, stupidity.

I was talking fast and spinning jokes, laughing about it, trying to cover the gaping gash those words had left across my heart. For this girl, this ridiculous classmate, I had liked her, I had laughed with her, I had invited her to our festival. I had talked with her. I had wanted to be her friend. Such brainlessness, it felt like a betrayal.

My girlfriend took me at my word and didn’t realize I was so sad. She snapped back at me, witty and mean, with something to the effect of “No shit.”

With this my heart broke, my face fell, I wrapped myself in my jacket and sunk into silence, into sadness.

So much to mourn here. At least two layers of it, each deep and distinct.

The first layer is the obvious one: that a smart, creative girl, someone strange enough she’d socialize with me, would hold such conventional aspirations. That somehow, here, today, such a person could think herself smart, practical, admirable, for wanting such things, such that she could tell people with a grin on her face, her eyes gone smug and sly. There here, today, in my extremely liberal town, at my decidedly artsy school, a smart kid could think sincerely that she’d like her life to amount to so many American dollars, to a high place on the ladder, so many people working for her, a number of expensive possessions.

To be honest I wanted to punch her in the face. I wanted to knock her right in the nose.

How can you not see that all of that is bullshit? Not just bullshit, but poison, evil goddamned weapons, the stuff of wars, the stuff of famines, the stuff of destitution. Why oh why would you want to join this machine, this horrible machine that is literally destroying our world at this very moment?

So that’s the first layer, the obvious one. It’s stupid and lazy and cowardly to want such ridiculous, conventional things. It’s an injustice to yourself, to sell yourself so short, to think you’re worth nothing more than money. To think the sum total of your life, your existence in the world, should be accumulating fucking cash.

And the second layer. This layer is the deeper, darker one, the frightening one, the one that truly scares me. This is the one that I could see clearly only later in the night, as I was sunk into my self, sick with sadness. This is the one I’m stuck against, the puzzle I can’t figure out.

I understand anger, I understand loathing, I understand judgement. These things come naturally to me. As any readers know, I can tell right from wrong, and when I see wrong, I can summon the fires of hell to condemn that which offends me. Fire and brimstone are inside me, they are at my disposal.

One thing that’s a lot harder for me is love. I’ve gotten better, very slowly better, at loving myself, and from there, loving my neighbors, loving my enemies. I’ve made progress. I understand the all-importantness of love. I understand that only absolute, unadulterated love can solve our problems. I understand that when someone says something stupid, like what my friend said here, the only productive response is love, compassion, understanding, empathy. Only with such things can criticism be meaningful. Only with such tenderness will we get anywhere. Bombs cannot win hearts and minds; love can, and does, and will every time.

Knowing the things that I know, and being the person I am, something terrible happened.

After I’d sulked for awhile, it was time to move on, to stop caring, to let it go, role over, have sex, go to sleep.

I tried to stop sulking. I tried to forgive this strange offense — which of course was not committed against me, in fact had nothing to with me — but I couldn’t. I couldn’t forgive it.

I searched my heart for compassion for my classmate and I couldn’t find it. I looked and looked for love for her and it simply wasn’t there.

I am the Queen Bee of Ruthlessness. Hatred is the name of my town.

* In the desert, in a village of hovels made of tires and mud and colored glass bottles, making art with the people I love.

** The Sex Workers Art Show. More on that later.



  1. Infra said,

    I suspect that the key is in the (apparent) typo:

    “role over”

    So many layers to that one.

  2. moonbeammcqueen said,

    What an amazing post. You always seem to express your emotions so eloquently, and you have a gift for understanding why you feel the way you do about things. Very wise, you are.

  3. Dmitry said,

    “To think the sum total of your life, your existence in the world, should be accumulating fucking [prestige, which I feel is more readily inferred from the quote].”

    Yeah fuck that shit, what have humans come to that they now desire high social status?

    It’s one thing to renounce others’ beliefs, and another thing entirely to attempt to delegitimate them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be a “sunshine relativist,” so to speak.

  4. Daisy said,

    Dmitry, you don’t know her and you weren’t there — she was definitely talking about money. (That sentence was preceded by one more explicitly about finances, something like “I don’t want to study art because I want to make money.”)

    Assuming you’re the same Dmitry I’ve encountered elsewhere, why on earth are you reading my blog? You’re clearly disgusted by my thinking and the way I approach things.

    Please leave me alone.

  5. robertjerome said,

    It sounds like your heart is crushed because you’re jealous that you’re going to be stuck in a podunk town while your friend goes off to the big city and lives an enviable life. Believe me, I know all about podunk towns. I outgrew my city years ago and I’m nearly going insane with rage and regret as I try to reconcile my goals and dreams with my dwindling possibilities and the death of my youth.

  6. Infra said,

    Sounds like a simpler and far more direct thing to me, one aspect of that being that “it felt like a betrayal.” Here was someone you liked, talked with, wanted to be friends with… and, likely along with that, felt that you could change. Not as a person, but to get them to see things in a different way, and live a different kind of life than the normal course.

    That got dashed suddenly, harshly, and in no uncertain terms. And without warning.

    An event like that may not only make a person feel betrayed; it can make them feel powerless. After all, if we can lose someone like that — someone with whom we feel some sort of connection — what chance do we have of changing the larger world? Especially those who might not feel that connection with us, or who might be actively hostile?

    It’s the small things that get inside us in insidious ways.

  7. Daisy said,

    Oh for fucks sake, why is everyone (save Infra and moonbeam) being such a jerk here? Believe me, RJ, I could have gotten a free ride to any school I wanted — I’m staying here by choice (and my town is basically the opposite of “podunk,” by the way). And actually that girl is leaving here for a podunk town in Texas.

    I’m sorry you’re miserable and stuck, but I’m not.

  8. Daisy said,

    Infra, at #6 — yes, exactly, exactly.

    An event like that may not only make a person feel betrayed; it can make them feel powerless. After all, if we can lose someone like that ā€” someone with whom we feel some sort of connection ā€” what chance do we have of changing the larger world? Especially those who might not feel that connection with us, or who might be actively hostile?

    Thank you, that is precisely how I felt.

    And moonbeam, thank you for the kind words.

  9. robertjerome said,

    I’m sorry, it’s just that I can’t imagine how anybody can be happy living in a small town. I always assume people who say as much are lying to themselves…but that’s just me. Invariably you have to accept that people change and sometimes they change in ways that disagree with your set of values. I guess it’s especially hard to see a friend go round the bend while acting completely rational as if something which was previously undetectable in their personality has finally started to manifest itself (Texas…yuck!). I can imagine how that would feel like betrayal. Those are the friends you want to grab by the tie most and punch in the face until they’re bloody, limp wrecks. But, alas, this probably wouldn’t even save them.

    Just let her go. If she’s chosen Texas as her promised land she’s got things wrong with her mentally and emotionally and needless to say she has issues. She’s a lost cause not worth fighting for.


  10. Daisy said,

    Well, I don’t actually live in a small town, though it is where I grew up. In general, though, I think a great way to piss people off is to assume they’re lying when they tell you about themselves.

    Thanks for the clarification. Indeed, punching her surely would not change her plans. I don’t actually want to changer her plans — it doesn’t bother me that she’s transferring. I just wish it were for different reasons.

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