Elizabeth Wurtzel is a trainwreck. I can’t look away.

There is not enough booze in the world to deal with this.

Y’all had better appreciate this video; I was up until midnight filming, editing and uploading it. This morning was a shit show because I was so short on sleep.

Here are the selected highlights. Someone actually put these words together, and someone else actually decided to run them in a magazine and pay Ms. Wurtzel for her troubles.

The title: Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One-Night Stand of a Life

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It had all gone wrong. At long last, I had found myself vulnerable to the worst of New York City, because at 44 my life was not so different from the way it was at 24. Stubbornly and proudly, emphatically and pathetically, I had refused to grow up, and so I was becoming one of those people who refuses to grow up—one of the city’s Lost Boys.

***

By never marrying, I ended up never divorcing, but I also failed to accumulate that brocade of civility and padlock of security—kids you do or don’t want, Tiffany silver you never use—that makes life complete. Convention serves a purpose: It gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis.

***

Please understand: I live specifically, with intent. The intent is, I know now, not at all specific, except that I have no ability to compromise. Most people say that as a statement of principle, but in my case, it is about feeling trapped when I am doing something I don’t like, and it is probably more childish than anything else. I likely do the right things for the wrong reasons. But it has also meant that I have not disciplined myself into the kinds of commitments that make life beyond the wild of youth into a haven of calm. I am proud that I have never so much as kissed a man for any reason besides absolute desire, and I am more pleased that I only write what I feel like and it has been lucrative since I got out of college in 1989. I had the great and unexpected success of Prozac Nation in 1994, and that bought me freedom. And I have spent that freedom carelessly, and with great gratitude. Why would I do anything else? I did not expect, not ever, to be scared to death.

***

Instead, I made a career out of my emotions. And now I am just quarreling with normal. I believe in true love and artistic integrity—the kinds of things that should be mentioned between quotation marks—as absolutely now as I did in ninth grade. But even I know that functional love includes a fair amount of falsity, or no one would get through morning coffee, and integrity is mostly a heroic excuse to avoid the negotiating table. But I can’t let go. I live in the chaos of adolescence, even wearing the same pair of 501s. As time goes by.

***

It had never occurred to me before that any of the choices I made, which I prized, I guess because at least they were mine, were crazy or risky; but I was becoming convinced. I am committed to feminism and don’t understand why anyone would agree to be party to a relationship that is not absolutely equal. I believe women who are supported by men are prostitutes, that is that, and I am heartbroken to live through a time where Wall Street money means these women are not treated with due disdain. But I also don’t get it: Even sitting through a carafe of Italian wine with a guy who worked in private equity felt like being handcuffed in the back seat of an unmarked squad car: The next stop is jail. And a lot feels potentially imprisoning to me: To get through every day, through a job of staring at pencil marks in spreadsheets through glassy eyes, through humoring a husband who has not sold a screenplay in six years and is writing a new one still, through telling everybody your three basic children are talented and gifted—I know that people who do these things are happy because happiness is the untruths we tell each other and ourselves or it would be unbearable. But I would rather not. I would rather be sad, and sometimes lonely, but at least not suffering the silly.

***

Even now, I am always in love—or else I am getting over the last person or getting started with the next one. But I worry about growing old this way. Because of divorce, dating never ends for anybody: Men I was involved with long ago—more than one of them—have turned up after a whole marriage and kids and being so sure they knew what life was for to tell me they were wrong to let me go. Which is funny. But I don’t think I really want to be going to the new P. T. Anderson movie and Mission Chinese with someone new when I’m 85.

***

These days, if I sneeze, it’s a reason to give up on the day, but when I was a teenager, I became willful when anyone said I couldn’t do something. I was a straight-A student, and when I got an A-minus in European history in tenth grade, I asked the teacher if he underestimated my intelligence because I looked dumb; he changed my grade to an A.

***

It isn’t just creative types, also public­-interest lawyers and public-­intellectual academics and political thinkers—collectively, the professional class. In a city, these are the people who make the place vital and fun. They work hard but still have time to try a no-­reservations restaurant on the Lower East Side or to check out the small boutiques in Nolita and help interesting young designers get off to a start. Mostly, they make six-figure incomes and somehow manage. And they are happy for the privilege.

***

But I never saved or invested, because I believe if you take care of the luxuries, the necessities will take care of themselves. When I got a huge advance for Bitch, my second book, I bought a Birkin bag, which Maria has since stolen. If I had spent the money on a mutual fund from T. Rowe Price, I might well have panicked and lost it during the financial crisis of 2008, and I would never have had the pleasure of schlepping my stuff on the IRT in Hermès.

***

I am fortunate to have been well paid for an almost pathological honesty, and the only way I am able to write that way is by being that way. It has been worth it—of course it has been—because there is a higher price attached to rare attributes than common ones. But there is a lot of good, workmanlike journalism that I could have, should have, and would have done if anyone ever thought of me. I established myself as someone much too precious. And, honest, I don’t pretend to like people I don’t and I can’t pretend to respect people who don’t deserve it. Still, my financial life might look about the same no matter what, because I chose to write about an uncompromised life in New York City in these times, and the only way to be that person is to never have it all work out.

***

It has been a singular privilege to work for David and to get to know him as well as I have. It’s enough to make me believe in luck. He is the smartest person I have ever met, and it is a steep fall to second place. I knew David Foster Wallace pretty well, and he was pretty smart, but David Boies makes David Wallace look like, well, some other lesser David, maybe David Remnick. I think most people are overrated; not David Boies. I know, because I just did not overrate him: Consider this an axiom.

***

It has a beautiful backyard with a white picket fence, and if I lived in a tent outside, it would be perfect. To get to my apartment, I walk down a flight of stairs; the bedroom is a subbasement and is not a legal dwelling space. It is small and cramped, and I hate it. I feel like I live in a dungeon. It is in Chelsea, east of Eighth Avenue, the neighborhood equivalent of a dungeon.

***

I’m like everybody else: I think about spending the rest of my life with every person I fall in love with, and I cry longer and harder and more than I should when it all goes wrong. I have spent an amazing amount of my life in tears. I have thought my heart was broke and done. But there was always the next one and the next one. Or I went to law school. Or I did something else. I am just not serious. Okay? There you have it. All the things that ­other people are willing to do that make them adjustable like appliances: I can’t.

I can only love with a pure heart and hope for the best.

***

There is a gap between me and everyone, like a perforated box of polluted air is separating me from people: The space from me to anyone who might understand how lousy I feel seems vast.

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I have been engaged in telling the truth about my life for most of my life now, and I believe everything I say. The events I describe are precisely as I remember them, and as anyone else who was there recalls.

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But this is it for me. I am a free spirit. I do not know any other way to be. No one else seems to live as I do. In a world gone wrong, a pure heart is dangerous.

I have always made choices without considering the consequences, because I know all I get is now. Maybe I get later, too, but I will deal with that later. I choose pleasure over what is practical. I may be the only person who ever went to law school on a lark. And I wonder what I was thinking about with all those other larks, my beautiful larks, larks flying away.

2 thoughts on “Elizabeth Wurtzel is a trainwreck. I can’t look away.

  1. Well, she’s going to write a helluva suicide note when she turns 50 and realizes she doesn’t look like she did in College.

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