My Head Aches and I Hate Everyone and Everything: a memoir

You’re writing your autobiography. What’s your opening sentence?

There’s something about waking up naked, tangled in bedsheets, with a semi between your legs – your head’s a mess, groggy from spending too much time doom scrolling the night before – and your first thought that pops in your too-sleepy brain is: Am I really about to turn 40?

It’s a work in progress.

Photo by Yan Krukau
Poetry Break

“Memoir” by Vijay Seshadri

Often times, I wonder how much truth I put out there into the world. Truth that I allow strangers to read. Truth that my dearest friends may or may not know. How honest am I when I write these fictions? When I recount my tales to coworkers about a life that seems to belong to someone else entirely?

As writers – as humans – we often like to recall the stories of our triumphs. Rarely do we engage in the tales of our follies. We don’t share the embarrassing rejections, but we share the meet cutes that lead to our love stories. When we do share the stories of rejections, they’re used to highlight our successes. How never giving up led us to where we stand now.

In his poem, Vijay Seshadri talks about the stories we don’t tell by recounting his humiliations. So for the eleventh poem, I have chosen “Memoir” by Vijay Seshadri. Please enjoy.

More Vijay Seshadri


Crash Override by Zoë Quinn

The day I picked up Zoë Quinn’s Crash Override: How GamerGate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, something happened on the internet. A professional kick boxer (who I will not name), said some disparaging remarks about depression. It resulted in backlash, but he didn’t back down. Doubling down on his remarks, the man also brought in the transgender community as a comical fuck you to his transgressors. Crash Override

The day I finished the book, the President of the United States (who I will also not name) continues his tweet storm against the NFL players who are taking a knee during The National Anthem. He’s calling for the termination of any athlete who doesn’t stand and respect the flag or our country. And in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Gee, I wish I had this much free time at my job.”

Maybe these things don’t go hand-in-hand. Maybe they do.

Zoë Quinn thinks that GamerGate and the 2016 election were orchestrated by the same people, and she may be onto something. She makes an interesting argument for it. I’m just not going to say anything, because we’re living in interesting times. And the threat of war looms over our heads like climate change.

I heard of GamerGate before, but never really understood what was happening. From podcasts to random clippings passed along online, I formed the idea that misogynistic male nerds (of which, I’m sad to report, there is an overabundance) were angry with women in the gaming industry. Women calling out the deep-seeded sexism within the industry. I never made comment. Never tried to look into the matter until Law & Order: Special Victims Unit made an episode about it.* And even then, I just glanced at that episode in passing.

Sad to say, it wasn’t until reading Quinn’s book that I realized how ignorant I’d been. A mixture of anger and sorrow filled my heart. But she didn’t write the book for sympathetic brownie points. She wrote it to shine a light on the ugly that is online abuse. How it runs unchecked through various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. How invested these Internet Inquisitors (as she called them) are to ruining someone’s life. How they tried to ruin hers.† (Upon one of my Good Reads progress updates, which are shared with Twitter, someone suggested to me that I read his book that tells “the other side’s” story of GamerGate. I’m willing to read it, but only if a local library has a copy as I only checked out Zoë Quinn’s book.)

The book also lends pointers to those who want to shield themselves from walking down the same path she was forced along. Tips on how to take care of others as unfortunate as she. She even called out people like myself. People who add to the problem by seeing others as bad guys deserving of their comeuppance. Because the people who attacked her didn’t see themselves as the villain. They saw themselves as fighting a good fight for a good cause. And there is no them vs us in the world. There is only us.

Thus far, Crash Override is one of the best books I’ve read this year. And it is my hope that others will read it. It’s compelling and funny, lending an authentic voice rather than something scholarly. (I imagine that Zoë Quinn is quite the character to know in person; glad I decided to pick up the book, not really knowing what to expect.)

Anyway, until next time. Keep on huntin’.

*Please note the low rating on the episode and some of the reviews written.
†And it continues. The moment I added her book to my Good Reads, I noticed several one-star reviews trying to discredit her so others won’t hear her story.