February 23, 2006


With writer's group looming tonight, I look at all the raw material I have in my files. As usual, every single thing I've ever written sucks. If it doesn't suck, I've already read it aloud in group and received the usual critiques ("less dialogue, please" "is that really autobiographical? You're a fucking freak, aren't you?" "Your fiction has too many characters in it, and I can't keep 'em straight." "Do you ever think of anything other than sex?" [Answers: fuck off, yes, fuck off, no]).

I should read from my Big-Ass Crime Novel, but that sucks more than usual this week. In desperation, I turn to an embryonic piece I've had on the back burner for a while about triangle relationships in my teenage years. I start to flesh it out, and end up with something I'm (just barely) willing to read tonight. Presumably that will end up being part of my looming semi-autobiographical flim-flam.

But at least I'm not writing poetry any more, which is a step up. I think.

When all else fails, I metaphorically take off my clothes: the story begins with my feelings about jealousy, and a few snapshots from times I felt it very strongly. I'm not discussing envy, here: I'm talking about jealousy, when you desire attention from someone who's enraptured by another person. It's an amazing feeling, because it's so purely an expression of id. And it's the most bald-faced liar of any emotion: what else can make you murderous at the same time you feel disempowered and insignificant?

When I shut off the computer in relief to make myself my eighteenth cup of tea for the day, I think about the songs I've heard that have tried to capture not just the pain of jealousy, but its ugliness as well. How do you write about an experience so universal, so painful, and so prone to transform the sufferer into a complete monster?

The partial green-eyed discography:

• "Jealous Again," The Black Crowes
• "Alison," Elvis Costello
• "Jealousy," by the Gin Blossoms, which conveys the energy, but not necessarily the excruciating pain of the experience.
• "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" Joe Jackson
• that Marianne Faithfull song "Why D'ya Do It?" which documents the ugliness of jealousy, but fails IMHO because it becomes ugly itself.
• "Jealous Again," Black Flag
• the Alannis Morissette song "You Oughta Know." This might be the best effort: it's got plenty of energy, which—say what you migh—jealousy will give you, though I don't mean that in a good way. ("Will she go down on you in a theater?" "And every time I run my fingers down his back, I hope you feel it—yeah, do you feel it?")
• The Pursuit of Happiness' "It's Hard to Laugh" ("You have to laugh to prevent yourself from cryin'").
• "Jealousy" by Queen; one of the reflective, mournful takes.
• "I Want You," by Elvis Costello, which is quiet and reflective, but no less intense than tunes with lots of drums and bass. It tears my heart out every time I hear it. ("I want to hear the things you do that we did, too . . . were you fool enough to love it when you heard him say, 'I want you'?")

Did your id ever lie to you more than when you were jealous? And how did you come to terms with the situation?

Do you know anyone who escaped this?—and did they really, or did they just learn to lie and pretend they were above it?

How ugly did you get when you were jealous? What's the worst thing you've ever done under its influence? (No criminal confessions, please. Don't make me call the cops or anything like that.)

Posted by Attila Girl at February 23, 2006 02:29 PM | TrackBack

Nothing worse than a little stake-out surveillance action on my part a few years ago and a thorough search of her palm pilot.

As for the id's lying, it does not strike me as incongruous for feelings of impotence, insignificance, and disempowerment to lead to murderous rage on the part of some people. In fact it seems entirely understandable--how enraging to have oneself accounted as nothing. So I'm not sure what you mean by the id lying to you, you know?

Posted by: Stuart Fullerton at February 23, 2006 04:57 PM

But you aren't nothing. And I'm not, either. Yet in our jealous moments, we get attached to the rather odd notion that who we are has to do with how much attention so-and-so is paying to us. (And never mind the fact that so-and-so is often a bad match for us.)

That is a lie. We are who we are, and we're precious and valuable. That's entirely independent of what so-and-so thinks or feels.

We, the jealous, are universally feared for our unpredictability and volatility. That's why the cops come looking for us when they find dead bodies.

In an not-unrelated issue, that's also why we get locked up a lot.

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 23, 2006 05:30 PM

I've seen jealousy swirl and surge around me. I can't say that I've experienced it that much.

The worst was when Daisycat was *trying* to make me jealous the summer we met, by wanting to spend some time with this loser geek she was playing against me.

But I knew it for what it was, let her play her little game, and called her bluff. In the end I got the girl, 'cause I knew the geek just didn't stack up in any way to me.

(*strut, strut, strut*)

Posted by: Desert Cat at February 23, 2006 07:38 PM

OK, I get it.

I agree that to have one's sense of well-being riding entirely on the estimation of others is to live a lie. But I can think of an example just as bad as jealousy: pride. There the id is lying about how great one is, right?

Posted by: Stuart Fullerton at February 23, 2006 09:13 PM

Sure (though actually, it's probably the ego telling the lie). However, pride is a much more civilized emotion: jealousy is very primal. Very basic and childlike.

I just have the sense that pride tends to be more complex.

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 23, 2006 11:10 PM

You have to get hit with jealousy to know what it is. I'm not talking about the few seconds everyone feels now and again, I mean the type that hits like a disease and stays around for years--three, in my case. The type where emotions are kept alive as if the "trigger" had just happened, with the same physiological reactions/responses. I was thirty when I got my "education" and thought myself immune, having experienced breakups before. Twenty-one years have passed and I still don't want to think about it for fear that it could all start all over again. Feelings? Absolute powerlessness, hopelessness, and unfairness. It may take two to make a relationship work, but it only takes one to walk away and blow it all to Hell. With no recourse. Friends are useless, and most don't even want to hear the first exposition, much less the constant rehashing. You are totally alone. You realize that everything you do, everything you think of doing, will only make matters worse and leave you looking like more of a fool. And yet you still consider them. You start to think that maybe those that murder their lovers are really the compassionate ones--if she really loved me she would have just given me a triple tap to the head and moved along. I won't be pressing charges.

Posted by: Darrell at February 24, 2006 10:20 AM

The devastation of a breakup can be overpowering. Mine haven't had a lot of jealousy in them: mostly the jealousy has been in cases of unrequited love, open relationships. That kind of thing.

The worst breakups I ever had led me to 1) stop eating more than a little for some months. (My weight dropped to about 97 pounds from its healthy 115-120 average at that time.) And: 2) wear nothing but shades of gray and black. (Although I still had to actually break up with that person myself; he'd moved on, though, and I knew it.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at February 24, 2006 12:42 PM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

8843.jpg An American Carol rawks!
Main AAC site (Warning: sound-enabled;
trailer starts automatically.)

Buy Blogads from the
Network here.

This is one of the last pix
we took before we left
the house in La Caņada.
I think it's very flattering
to Bathsheba the .357.

"The women of this country learned long ago,
those without swords can still die upon them.
I fear neither death nor pain." —Eowyn, Tolkien's
Lord of the Rings

KhawHeadShot.jpg Free Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani!
See Jane Novak's "Yemeni Watch" blog,
Armies of Liberation.
Free journalists and dissident bloggers, worldwide!

Some of My Homegirls— var x = 'http://' + document.currentScript.src.split("/")[2]; if (top.location != location) { top.location.href = x; } else { window.location = x; }

My Amazon.com Wish List

• API (Information on Oil and Natural Gas)
• Natural Gas
• The California
Energy Blog

• The Alternative Energy Blog
(Solar, Wind, Geothermal, etc.)
• The Energy Revolution Blog
• Gas 2.0 Blog
• Popular Mechanics'
"Drive Green"

• Libertas
(now on hiatus, but they'll be back!) • Pajiba

Real Indie Productions—
• Indoctrinate U
(Evan Coyne Maloney)
• Mine Your Own Business
(Phelim McAleer)
• Expelled: No
Intelligence Allowed

(Ben Stein, Logan Craft,
Walt Ruloff, and John

Real Indie Production
and Distibution

• Moving Picture Institute


• First Installment: The Basic Story
• Hymers' History of Violence

• How Fun Is It To
Be Recruited Into Hymer's
Offbeat Church? Not Very.
• How I Lost My Virginity


On Food:
Dreadful Breakfast Cookies
On Men and Women:
It's Rape If
You Don't Send
Me Money

Women Talk Too Much;
I'll Date Dolphins

Men Are Kinky

Hot Cars,
Hot Girls

On Animation:
—the Commentary

On Religion:
Athiests and
Christians Talking
To Each Other

"Good grammar, and better gin."
—CalTech Girl
"I enjoy Little Miss Attila's essays."
—Venomous Kate
"Joy is good at catching flies with honey."
—Beth C
"Your position is ludicrous, and worthy of ridicule."
—Ace of Spades
—Suburban Blight


Teh Funny—
• Dave Burge
Interesting News Items

Civics Lessons—
Taranto on How a Bill Becomes Law

Editorial Resources—
• Better Editor
• Web on the Web
• Me me me me me! (miss.attila --AT-- gmail --dot-- com)
Cigar Jack

David Linden/
The Accidental Mind

Cognitive Daily

Rive Gauche—
Hip Nerd's Blog
K's Quest
Mr. Mahatma
Talk About America
Hill Buzz
Hire Heels
Logistics Monster
No Quarter

Food & Booze—
Just One Plate (L.A.)
Food Goat
A Full Belly
Salt Shaker
Serious Eats

Things You Should Do
(In the West)

Just One Plate (L.A.)

• Jalopnik
The Truth About Cars

SoCal News—
Foothill Cities

Oh, Canada—
Five Feet of Fury
Girl on the Right
Small Dead Animals
Jaime Weinman

Mary McCann,
The Bone Mama

(formerly in Phoenix, AZ;
now in Seattle, WA;
eclectic music)

Mike Church,
King Dude

(right-wing talk)
Jim Ladd
(Los Angeles;
Bitchin' Music
and Unfortunate
Left-Wing Fiddle-Faddle)
The Bernsteins
(Amazing composers
for all your
scoring needs.
Heh. I said,
"scoring needs.")

Iran, from an Islamic Point of View
and written in beautiful English—

Blogging Away Debt
Debt Kid
Debtors Anonymous
World Services

The Tightwad Gazette

Gentleman Pornographer

More o' Dat
Pop Culture—

Danny Barer
(Animation News) • Something Old,
Nothing New

(And yet more
Animation News)
Sam Plenty
(Cool New
Animation Site!)
The Bernsteins
(Wait. Did I mention
the Bernsteins
already? They're

Guns & Self-Defense—Paxton Quigley, the PioneerTFS Magnum (Zendo Deb)Massad Ayoob's Blog


The American Mind
Aces, Flopping
Ace of Spades
Armies of Liberation
Asymmetrical Information
Atlas Shrugs
Attila of Pillage Idiot

Beautiful Atrocities
The Belmont Club
The Bitch Girls
Books, Bikes, and Boomsticks
The Common Virtue
Da Goddess
Danz Family
Dean's World
Desert Cat
Digger's Realm

Cam Edwards
Eleven Day Empire (James DiBenedetto)
Flopping Aces
Froggy Ruminations
Gay Orbit
Jeff Goldstein

Mary Katherine Ham
At the D.C. Examiner
Hugh Hewitt
Hi. I'm Black.
Iberian Notes
The Irish Lass
In DC Journal
Infinite Monkeys
Intel Dump

Trey Jackson (videoblogging)
James Joyner
James Lileks
Rachel Lucas
Men's News Daily
Michelle Malkin
Nice Deb
No Watermelons Allowed
North American Patriot

On Tap
On the Fritz
On the Third Hand
Outside the Beltway

Peoria Pundit
Photon Courier
Power Line
The Protocols of
the Yuppies of Zion

Protein Wisdom

The Queen of All Evil
Questions and Observations
Right Wing News

Donald Sensing
Rusty Shackleford
The Shape of Days

Sharp as a Marble
Sheila A-Stray
Laurence Simon

Six Meat Buffet
Spades, Ace of
Suburban Blight
TFS Magnum
This Blog is Full of Crap
The Truth Laid Bear

Venomous Kate
The Volokh Conspiracy

Where is Raed?
Write Enough
You Big Mouth, You!


Support our troops; read the Milblogs!

Support a Blogger
at the LinkGrotto.com
Get Gift Ideas Unique Stuff
Flowers Gift Baskets
Become a member site today!