115. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman, Jr.
Starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroheim, and Nancy Olsen
My friend P and I once agreed that milking pathos from dying animals is cheating. But that largely depends on context: a zoo in flames, a poached elephant, those viral videos of vet techs resuscitating abandoned dogs. You need to know the proportion of cruelty to helplessness. We never learn the name of that chimpanzee and only witness its funeral from a distance. Who knows if Norma cries behind her sunglasses for her fallen companion. When I die, feed my body to wolves or, I don’t know, donate it to a teaching hospital with unionized nurses. I suggested to J that we choose our next classic movie based on the available gifs we can use to make our text exchanges extra fabulous. But the internet is vast, and new content springs forth by the hour. I freelanced for a few months when I only had a part-time job, churning out bullshit for websites that never made it off the ground. It was mildly soul-crushing, and the pay averaged out to a below-minimum wage rate. Still, it kept my savings from dwindling too quickly. I’ve fantasized about writing for a sitcom. X says I’m good at dialog, but fuck if I know anything about narrative arcs or, like, how humor on the page translates to the screen. The wonderful thing about essays is that they give you space to meander and digress, which is also just how I live my life. I can feel my drive to write returning. Funny how it went away right after my last piece was published. I’ve often told J that the problem with being bipolar is that I feel too much, that I’m constantly regulating my emotions so they don’t overwhelm me. Both she and X, at different times and in various ways, have reminded me that not everything is tenuous, that they have a say, too, in whether I get to be a part of their lives. I don’t believe in God; so why am I convinced that fate will lead me to a sad, lonely end? Change takes time. Riga, my fictional/musical avatar, bears a heavier and heavier cross every time I revisit and expand her story. All my songs are in her voice, which means that, when I sing them, I’m making myself vulnerable, but once removed? Her woes are mostly mine but all hers. The layers of meta are staggering. Say what you mean? Never. Always.