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autologue: as we go along

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 12:15AM -0700
To: gravity
From: Scotto
Subject: autologue: as we go along

"i can tell by your face
that you're looking to find a place
to settle your mind and reveal who you are"

in that future perfect world where i know what i want and somehow manage to attain it, i watch the sunset while standing on my back porch, overlooking the creek, listening to the birds, sipping a delicious mug of hot chocolate. the peaceful satisfaction of the day's work is behind me, and i drink in the relaxing aura of the crisp autumn evening. i've been working on a new novel, and the voices of several of my characters are already filling my head with tomorrow's chapter. i feel a kind of contentment that i never expected to feel, a sense of accomplishment at having simply survived, let alone with my wits and my compassion intact. jenmoon steps out onto the porch, embraces me from behind as she has for decades now. we are waiting for the mescaline to take effect.

"and you shouldn't be shy
for i'm not going to try
to hurt you or heal you or steal your star"

the useless machismo of the angry young man died a long time ago, replaced by ambition, the desire to be something more, the need to earn respect. i was fresh out of college with a degree in theatre, having moved to chicago with twenty dollars in my pocket on my first grand idealistic adventure. we were making stone soup theatre. our first theatre company fell apart, the two founders enraged at each other. undaunted, i started my own theatre company. our first play was met with stunning indifference, and it too fell apart. LSD and i continued our deep, unfortunate relationship. my engagement to a young iowa girl fell apart. one night, alone in bed, staring at the ceiling, it occurred to me for the first time that big things were not in store for me, as i had believed as a child. i would be neither rich nor famous, my movies would not be produced, my books would not be read, my songs would not be heard. i was, at that moment, a secretary, and i had little reason to expect more.

"open your eyes, get up off your chair
there's so much to do in the sunlight"

my first experience with pure MDMA happened almost a decade ago, in a house up in the mountains, surrounded by two dozen close friends. i experienced telepathy that night, but undoubtedly more important was the tremendous opening of our collective hearts. my burgeoning nihilism found itself confronted by wondrous luxuries of friendship. it was a shimmering, lovely, tantalizing glimpse into our communal heart. it was a seed we planted that would, over the years, flower in so many delicious and unexpected ways. the frenzied, destructive mania of my early twenties gave way to a more confident, compassionate young adult. i moved to seattle with a newfound pragmatic optimism. i worked to harness my ambition, and retrain my expectations of what could and should be meaningful endeavors and meaningful goals. i continued to meet an array of interesting and astonishing people, and found a new career in the software world. my personality evolved in the crucible of experience, led by the notion that i was blessed with opportunity.

"give up your secrets and let down your hair
and sit with me here by the firelight"

i often fear that revisiting my best friend's suicide is at best a maudlin pursuit, but the savage scar his death left on me has required years of tending. we attended the same lutheran grade school together, where his mother taught first grade and his father was principal. we became very close during high school, fellow outcasts who played RPGs and listened to unpopular music. he read my very first book and did me the courtesy of pretending to enjoy it. yet he chose as his form of rebellion against his parents to abandon christianity and become the only true solipsist i've ever known. we went off to separate colleges, and i was working my first summer as a theme park performer when i got the call and learned that gary had killed himself. his parents suffered three miscarriages before their first child, gary's beloved older brother randy, was born. his father suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. randy killed himself three months before gary did. i lost more than my best friend when gary died; my faith in a god that could so mercilessly punish its servants dissipated in an instant. the cold vacuum that remained in my heart has yet to be entirely filled. my single deepest regret is that we did not manage to create leri in time to capture gary's attention, to perhaps counter his despair with unexpected hope.

"why think about
who's gonna win out?
we'll make up our story as we go along"

the feeling is that of an invitation rescinded. you will often hear individuals extol the virtue of taking risks; these are usually individuals who have had the good fortune of seeing their particular risks pay off. you begin to wonder how many doors the universe can actually slam in your face on its way to kicking you off the planet. you wonder just how far you can fall before your friends decide it's not worth picking you up. you wonder how long ago you actively napalmed what was left of your optimism in favor of easy, tranquil fatalism. it all seems to be catching up to you at once, every idiotic decision, squandered opportunity, poor judgment call, honest mistake, cruel twist of fate. it happens, you know, to people just like you -- well, probably to someone you once met, at any rate.

"there's so little time
for us to try and rhyme
and so many highways to travel upon"

if i had been born in some other part of the world, perhaps today would be the day i strapped on an explosive belt and climbed aboard a city bus. instead, today was the day i watched the mariners win a ball game on television, eating a nice little dinner, relaxing in bed. i did not wake up in a doorway today on 3rd avenue, huddled under a threadbare blanket, but in my wonderful bed in a loft apartment that i love. things are getting simpler. the more you lose, the more thankful you are for what remains. you realize they could take a lot more away from you - and they damn well might do just that - but there is actually a limit to how much they can strip away. your credit record doesn't follow you into the afterlife; you haven't lost your family to plague or famine; you've never quite been oppressed the way others are even now finding themselves oppressed. in theatre, an alchemical formula called the willing suspension of disbelief allows performers and their audience to initiate, for the duration of a play, a completely alternate reality upon the stage, a magical world in which the actors are and are not the characters they play, in which the events you see before you are entirely illusory and yet evoke powerfully real effects upon your imagination, your emotions, your heart. the true test of the metaprogrammer and the magician is to discover exactly how far you can extend the boundaries of the stage.

"open your eyes, get up off your chair
there's so much to do in the sunlight"

we got rained on at the beach burn the other night, and i stood around with my friends, feeling cheerfully grumpy about the situation. only in seattle would a bunch of freaks spend hours cavorting around a giant bonfire in the pouring rain. it is easy to count my blessings these days, because there are so few of them it seems; but those few are almost preposterously rewarding. the character of "scotto" is a performance i continue to work on over the years, an effort made problematic by the decisive lack of a director. i'm not lonely; that's the biggest blessing. for that, i owe many of you a great debt; fortunately, it's one debt i don't mind repaying. there is no future perfect world, of that i am well aware. but i wouldn't dare rewrite any of my wildly imperfect past, for fear of losing the parts of the story i somehow managed to get right as i went along.

"give up your secrets, and let down your hair
and sit with me here by the firelight..."

["as we go along" written by carole king & toni stern]



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