Archive for the ‘ Self Image ’ Category

The Cat

I was told once that I was like a stray cat.  The comparison goes that I could be coaxed up onto the porch occasionally and you could feed me and pet me and we’d generally get along, but eventually I’d wander off again.  I’d be back, but no one knew when.  My motivations for such were never clear, even to me.  Fear of attachment.  Fear of intimacy.  Or maybe I just didn’t care.

I was recognized as a Knight of the Society for Creative Anachronism recently.  Pretty amazing.  It came with something unexpected though – I am now called brother by what is essentially my group of heroes, but the woman who called me the stray cat basically broke up with me.  It echoed the sentiment that I am my own man now, and that I should act like it.

I had gotten used to tethers and attachments.  I still have them.  I am bound by blood to my son.  I am bound by oath to my King and Queen.  I am bound by oath to uphold the ideals that a knight once symbolized.  I display my oath by my belt and chain among the SCA folk and by the ink in my flesh at all times.  Whatever happens and wherever I am, those things will be true.

Maybe I was always destined to be a Knight Errant.  My trinity of ironclad responsibilities aside, I will tend to stray from the porch.  During my Vigil, I received words of great wisdom.  I consider it all of equal import, but the relevant one is this:  I was on a path and I walked it to its conclusion.  The path ends in the woods.  There is no going back, and what lies ahead depends entirely on me.  I am not sure I could ever see a path though.  I am starting to believe that I’ve always wandered the woods and that I would occasionally choose to walk next to people who do see paths.

OR – I could just be batshit crazy.  Either way, cutting some tethers and striking out into the woods again.

Gone, Baby, Gone

Once upon a time, I went on a vacation.  I know, you’re thinking, “Just one?”  I’m thinking of a specific incident, but it’s my memory and I’m not sharing.  Anyway, this vacation was amazing.  I didn’t want it to end.  I didn’t cope well with it ending.  It was a… turbulent time in my life.  On the way home, I kept thinking that maybe I should have missed my return flight.  Days later, I would posit that, really, I didn’t come back.  Funny how you never know what you know.

Not long ago, I was reading the latest installment in my favorite series of books.  It has a kind of esoteric look at causality and time paradox and the main character is constantly struggling with his own sense of identity.  Small wonder that I like the character so much, right?

The main character in the story is mulling over meeting himself as a kid, and how it must no longer have happened because he didn’t remember doing it as an old man.  Weird.  The conclusion was that it was someone who looked like him, who had his scars, but that it was not him.  There were also iterations of himself floating around that were each treated as distinct entities.  The book described the situation as “raining weird.”  Apt.  Now, maybe I’m reading too much into things, but I had a thought.

The world is constantly changing.  Even if something so mundane as your work-week seems like it repeats itself, the details will always be different.  One day, the power might go out.  You’ll deal with it.  One day, there will be a firing or a hiring.  You’ll deal with it.  Running with the hiring example, after that day you will not only be you; you’ll also be the person who showed the rookie where the broom closet is.  Yeah, I know not every story can be exciting, but it will still have happened.  That version of you is bound to that time and place.  Every time you go anywhere or do anything, the you you are at that moment will be overwritten.

Every time I leave, you’ll never see me again.  You might see a guy who has a face like mine, and he may tell similar terrible jokes, but I never came back.

Catch Up

My last post was nearly three months ago.  I’ve left Word documents open for weeks on end, but all they do is accumulate phone numbers for people trying to get ahold of people I used to know.

When meeting new people, one of the oft-asked questions is, “What are you into?”  My stock answer always includes writing.  I actually do love to write.  So why is it that I stopped?

I met this girl.  I meet a lot of girls.  The one in this story is an actress.  I suspect I won’t see her again, mostly because she lives in NYC and is touring with a show for the foreseeable future.  I met her in the bar, because that is the entirety of my social life now, and we went to lunch.  We talked for a couple of hours.  We talked about the etymology of words.  We made up a couple.  We talked about acting  and being afraid of bugs and skydiving.  She said she had never met anyone who described themselves as a writer before and we talked about my half-book.   Her enthusiasm for everything was dazzling.  It was a good time.

All too soon, reality intruded.  She had errands to run.  Denver’s beautiful weather had swung back to intermittent rain.  We hugged goodbye in the hotel lobby, and I hoofed it back to the parking garage.  Rather than wait for the weather to clear, I fired up my bike and shot out into the soggy day.  I listened to the roar of the wind and watched the road with a thousand-yard-stare that cut through the water droplets splattering on my visor.  I thought about writing, not out of any overt need to woo a female, but out of a desire to start again.  I don’t even remember at this point whether I came up with any interesting thoughts.  It doesn’t matter because I sure as hell didn’t transcribe them.

Maybe it’s too meta, but I paused at the end of the last paragraph to read my last post.  The last one ended with me pondering a return to the old way – drinking until words spilled from my fingertips.  I’m sober right now.  I seldom have time or a safe harbor in which I can afford to get all “wastey-faced.”

There is light on the horizon though, and I am no longer a fan of pronouncing all things doomy and gloomy.  Yeah, I know “doomy” isn’t a word.  Neither is “wastey-faced.”  Did you still understand my meaning?  Communication accomplished, then.  Moving on.  I finally made it to an SCA event after a year-long hiatus.  My fighting authorization was still in good standing, but my entry to the event and the tournament involved showing a PDF of my new Society membership.  I did my best to catch up with all the people I used to know.  I did a poor job of it, as usual, but let that go for now.  There had been discussion at one of the fighter practices about a diminished level of “magic” in the air at events, so I took care to use every proper title I knew and bow to everyone in a coronet or crown.  Something still felt different, but that may have just been in my head.

I suppose I should wrap this up before it gets too unruly.  I do have more on my mind, which is a good sign.  I’m getting set to hit up more SCA events this summer, starting with Crossroads.  The actress brought to light that I’ve actually accomplished two of my three New Year’s resolutions, which beats most people I know.  Even better, I just squeezed out 600 words without being drunk!

Twenty Twelve

Twenty Twelve

Anyone remember the resolutions they made last year?  Lord, I hope not.  I know my own track record is abysmal.  Remember that time I promised to work out every day?  Or how about the time I decided I would finally properly manage my budget?  Haha, good times.  The only things I’ve ever successfully made stick were my cessation of drinking pop and smoking marijuana.

This year’s resolution list is going to seem like a rerun, but I’m doing it anyway.  I am going to at least pretend  to have goals.

  1.  It’s time to start taking better care of myself.  Okay, the time to do that was back when I was 18, but I didn’t.  I’m going to do better.  I’ve already been to the dentist twice at the ass end of 2011, and my smile is one thing worth saving.  Additionally, literally EVERY other bouncer is magnitudes stronger than me.  I am not going to try to match them in strength, but I want to be stronger and faster than I am right now.
  2. It’s time to find my muse again.  I managed to write half a freaking book last year.  The only thing that could top that is to write the other half and finally take my shot at getting published.  I love writing, and it’s a travesty that I do as little of it as I do.  To my credit, I didn’t go back to trying to fuel my creativity with booze, but I do need to fuel it again.  People say I’m good.   I like to say that power not used is not power.
  3. It’s time to get a damned motorcycle.  I’ve always wanted one.  Every one of my friends knows I’ve always wanted one.  I’ll bet they are sick of hearing about it by now.  So I’m going to do it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a shitty one.  I will have a bike.

I have plans for some of this stuff.  I need plans for others.  I hate asking for help, but I think I’m going to need it and I am FUCKING SICK of failing.

Bulletproof

Some of the more scholarly types call it “Hyperreal.”  The term refers our perceptions completely obscuring the realness of something.  It’s akin to eating at Taco Bell and claiming to have had Mexican food for dinner.  Or something like that.  It happens with people too.  When you meet someone, your brain starts with whatever schema it can come up with to quickly categorize that person.  When anyone asks, you say you know them.  Ever meet someone you instantly disliked?  They probably did one thing or another that immediately reminded you of someone or something you already didn’t like.  At least, that’s how it works for me.

Near as I can tell, it works in reverse too.  We judge from the instant we come in contact, but we also try to project the ideal version of ourselves.  There’s a whole industry devoted to that sort of thing, after all.  We get up in the morning (or evening, in my case) and shower and style our hair and shave and don makeup as appropriate.  We get dressed in clothes that were presumably picked because they send the message we want to project.  Some put more thought into it than others.  Behaviorally, our projection requires less preparation.  Have you ever had someone do an impression of you?  Near as I can tell, the performer is just reenacting your public default actions and doing their best to echo your voice.

I know this whole post is kind of a mess, but stay with me.  Here’s where it gets personal.  No one has done an impression of me.  I’m a copycat, so my default actions have been drawn from the massive amounts of fiction I’ve consumed over the years.  If one were to quote me, one might be quoting the movie I watched last week.  It’s one of my many flaws.  It’s also part of the image I try to project.  I also try to seem like a good guy, even when I never feel like one inside.  I do my best to seem like I care, although I spend all my time feeling bad for not caring as much as I think I should.  I basically walk around holding a photoshopped picture of me between me and the world.  Or maybe I’m just constantly acting out a commercial for myself like I’m a product to be sold.  Either way, they are seeing the candy coating of attractive ideas in which I cover myself.

Yeah, I’m basically claiming that even people are hyperreal, and that since all I am is the ‘idea of Justin,’ V for Vendetta supports my claim that I’m bulletproof.

Or maybe I’m just screwier than the hardware department at Home Depot.

Hype

At the moment you meet someone, you start building a mental image of them.  I’m not talking about the very instant you see a given person.  I’m talking about when you start talking to them.  As soon as you care enough to remember the name.  You start with the name, and then you hang mannerisms and stories they tell you from that name like a mobile.  Or maybe it looks more like a web.  I don’t know.  We all visualize things differently.

At any rate, you build up this mannequin in your head that resembles the person and is constructed of everything you know about them.  Or, more accurately, everything you’re told about them.  The difference is worth noting, because I’ve met plenty of people who turned out to have a side to them that I would not have guessed existed.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with putting your best foot forward; I’m saying that for whatever reason, that thought didn’t occur to me for much of my adult life.

What’s my point?  I’m getting to it.

I know that people have built an image of me in their heads the same way I’ve done for them.  I do my best to remember that everything I think I know about someone is based solely on what I’ve seen so far.  Everyone keeps secrets.  Anyone who tells me otherwise is up to something.  I don’t begrudge them that; it’s natural.  Best foot forward, remember?  I do the same, but for whatever reason I can’t accept that my friends are suckered by what is for me an obvious con.

Every time I look in the mirror, I can’t help but wonder how I’ve got people so snowed.  They think that I’m a good guy, but I can’t seem to believe it.  I don’t feel like a good guy, so I must not be.  I do try to be a genuinely good person, but I don’t ever feel like it works.  I’m worried.  I’m worried that the image that everyone builds of me in their minds is as sturdy as a house of cards.  I’m worried that people will see me the way I see me.  I’m worried that I can’t live up to my own hype.