Monday, January 24, 2005

Who I Am and How I Came to Be (or, the serious post)

"The world is made for those who are not cursed with self-awareness."
-Bull Durham

I never meant for this thing to ever be serious. This blog was created for the amusement for those dozen or so of people who have my screen name, and may find my irrational blitherings amusing for a few moments, perhaps enough to compel them to return again and read more. However, this is a serious post, unfortunately, and those of you looking for inaccurate details of my boorish actions should probably go elsewhere, or close the window immediately.

They say that people spend their lives running from and reacting to dangers and fears long past. Ideas and nightmares impressed upon us in childhood, themes and visions that have since grown into invisible nightmares that force and block our actions, whether we know it or not. I think this is largely true. A boy physically abused as a child may shy away from touch or physical interaction. A girl who lost her parents may find the idea of abandonment terrifying, and seek shelter and consolation in the arms of others. Yeah, it's true.

Let me explain what is going on here. As I recently said in a previous post, I have joined a swimming class for both knee problems and physical conditioning. You may also remembered that I jokingly suggested that I would be the fastest and best in the class, which, of course, was bullshit, but the degree to how much of that was bullshit I don't think anyone knew.

We had our first class today, and, oh boy, did I do bad. I felt physically up to the role, and am not quite tired, but my technique, my abilities, my general skill in swimming, is pathetic. Breathing is the most difficult part. It sounds simple when someone explains this to me, all you have to do is breathe by the side of your head, but in the water... It's much harder, at least for me. I can't breathe in fast enough or I can't breathe out fast enough, I take huge, gulping, panicked breaths and sometimes take in pool water, too. Eventually I just keep my head above the water, which makes swimming maybe twice as hard. Not only that, a large portion of the rest of the class apparently know how to swim quite well and only joined so that someone could force them to exercise (the lazy bastards; if you know how to do something and can do it well, then fucking do it). The instructors tell me not to worry, that by the end of the semester, they'll have me looking great. I believe them, sort of.

Now you are wondering, "Why is this so important to him? Why is such a small thing bothering him so much?" Well, let me explain.

Well, I guess I'll start at the beginning.

When I was a kid, I had so many physical flaws it was incredible. I was pale and skinny, I was slow and uncoordinated, I couldn't run, catch, or throw. When the other kids played football (after they let me hang out with them), I was always the referee. And I had a terrible case of athsma. I remember sitting in the doctor's office, breathing through a nebulizer, the sterile, acrid taste of the medicinized smoke filling my sinuses, a thick white fog that made my brain and eyes ache. And I remember the sheer and utter terror as a kid when I didn't even know I had athsma, I didn't know what was wrong with me. I remember one of the first times outside of our elementary school. The sun was bright and hot, the grass yellow and baked, fragile and dead from the lack of water. We played football, myself essentially an extra man who ran around in circles and barely even saw the ball. And then suddenly the world seemed to slow down, to go dark maybe, and my lungs were like sacks of cement sitting in my chest, writhing masses of mucous and pain, like I was filled with oil and dust. I fell down, and I felt the hot grass on my neck and the back of my knees, and the world span, and there were noises in me, rattling and harsh, but you couldn't hear them, only feel them, like giant strings run across the hollow spaces in my insides, vibrating and grating against my heart and guts.

But what I most remember were the eyes of the other kids. Circling around me, confused and, I think, disgusted. The one who can't play football can't even run. He can't play anything. They just stood around me, watching, not doing anything, not going for help, just watching my face grow red and my body writhe and convulse and my eyes bulge. Watching me die slowly on the brown, hot grass.


I think, it is much the same way when I stutter.

It must look the same, I think. My eyes roll and my face twitches, I make fists and grit my teeth, trying to pry the word out of my handicapped and inadequate tongue. And everyone watches. Confused, bewildered, wary. They wonder why sometimes I can't say my name, why I have to take out my ID and point to it. Why sometimes, when I make a phone call, I can't even ask if the person I want to speak to is there. I can't say their name. I struggle for a while, and then I say, "Is your son there?" and I wonder what they must think. They must feel awkward and uneasy around me.

This would be okay if I was a stupid guy and didn't have a lot to say. But I'm not. I want to talk constantly, all the time, I have a million little quips and jokes to say, a million ideas and visions, and they're all trapped within this worthless mortal coil that barely even works. I want to run fast and I want to give speeches, I want to be in plays and I want to teach, I want to catch footballs and baseballs and every type of ball there is, I want to find things out, but every social interaction, every physical interaction is a symphony of awkwardness and potential failure. And they'll watch. They'll watch me fail, right in front of them, and they'll see it, and they'll judge and know and remember and the dreams and ideas I have in my head will be worthless then.
There is another fact about me I find dourly amusing.

When I was born, my mother had to undergo a C section without anaesthetic because I was flatlining. I was a tiny wet corpse, ripped from my mother's stomach as she screamed in endless pain. Something born dead. Something that was worthless. Something that not only is inefficient at existing in this world, but should not exist at all, and does not have any right to. That's a hell of a thing to think, isn't it? That the things you've seen and done and made would, if Mother Nature had her way, loving and sweet Gaia, giver and taker of life, never have existed. I'm living on stolen time.

I guess you could call me a medical miracle, but a medical miracle really is just a biological fuck up that people, with their few advantages over nature, were capable of correcting. Mighty Darwin has no place within his ranks for medical miracles. Medical miracles are polluting the fucking gene pool.

My wish, my greatest fantasy, has always been to be faster, stronger, smarter, and generally better than everyone I see and meet. People wonder why I work out, and they probably think it's vanity, but I'm not looking for a hard body. I'm looking for optimum performance, I'm looking to hedge my bets in life, that, maybe, if I can better myself to the max in every way that I can, maye I can offset the massive flaws that have been built into me. Maybe if I improve my cardiovascular system, my athsma and allergies will not matter. Maybe, if you do the math, I can be normal. Or better than normal. I want to be better, I want for when people watch me, when they see me in life and in this world, they won't see a failure, something that Should Not Have Been, they'll see something great and strong and admirable. Something useful, something that is not worthless.

Sometimes it is extreme. A lot of the times, actually. Sometimes every person who is better than me is like a drop of blood taken out of my vains, a wound the world inflicts on me, a strike that I have to overcome. Another blow. The world spitting in my face and laughing, showing me what a real person is like, a functioning and happy person. And I smile back, and I work, and I try to be better. I try to beat everyone. A professor once noted on one of my papers that many of my metaphors and similes deal with warfare, and he wondered why that is. Well, because, to me, life is war. Pure and simple. Only there are no allies, there is no backup, no reinforcements, no friends or loved ones or help. There's just you and everyone else, everyone else in the world, everyone with eyes and consciousness. That's my war. The war to make myself worthy and superior in the bright and hard and cruel eyes of the world, and the war is slow and hard and bitter, a crushing crawl as I overcome and eliminate obstacles with brutal, merciless efficiency. And if I can't do it, if I can't make them see me like I want them to, then I'll gouge those eyes out with my bare hands and die laughing.

This, of course, is melodramic, self-pitying, and utterly futile. I am aware of that. It is barbaric and silly, the vicious fantasy of a vicious child. But sometimes, that is how the world is to me.

And when I swam today the fears and the unhappiness came back to me. Everyone gliding gracefully though the water, liquid spears of muscle sliding through the clear, beautiful water. Everyone but me, who was a mass of spasms and panic. And they watched. They saw. They saw me awkwardly pull myself toward the edge of the pull. With each lap, the pool seemed to get longer and longer. The edge got father and farther. And when I launched off of the wall, my breath became hard and terrified, and the water seemed to fill me, and I couldn't breathe.


It's funny how something as simple as an hour of swimming laps can bring back the nightmares you barely even knew you had. But I guess life is like that.

Not just swimming, of course. There have been a few people I've been dealing with who treat me like a problem they plan to fix. Like a project, someone they plan to make happy so that they can feel better about themselves. This is frustrating to me. I want to tell them these things, but when I start on the things that make me get mad, well, shit, I get pretty mad. And pretty soon I'd be yelling at them, grinning and swearing, and I'd scare them, and I'd fail with someone new, only this time it wouldn't be because of some handicap, I'd just gone and done it myself because I'm stupid and stubborn. So I just smile pleasantly and try to shrug them off. Even though I want to strangle them, close off their air and show them what a day in my life is like.

My instructors say I just have to relax, and that they'll help me. "Relax" is a foreign word to me, I've never relaxed a day in my goddamn lige, but I believe them. They seem nice, and I think they can help me become better. Part of me wants to quit that class, but, no, I won't. I'd come back from a battle defeated, and those around me would grimace and think of me as just that much more retarded. They'd see how torn up I was over my inability to swim, and they'd laugh, because they don't know how deep the wounds are, they don't know how deep it goes. But that's okay. One day, they'll see me, and I'll be something great, maybe. Maybe a writer, or maybe I'll work in the FBI. Somewhere where all these great ideas can get out before I burst. I try to ignore my urges, I try to be great because I want to do something good for this world, not out of bitterness, not out of some vicious grudge with God and the world and nature. I think that's a battle I'm winning. I'm trying to remember what peace is, to remember that it exists, and maybe I can find it, maybe living won't be warfare anymore. Maybe.

Anyways, that's Monday. Was this too serious? Too psychological? Are you terrified of me now, wary of these problems that seem so, well, just plain fucked up? I hope not. I sure would hate to have fucked up something else.

I promise to return to the silly booger jokes and politically incorrect humor next time.


Blogger poisoned_well said...

It's been a pleasure following and reading your entries since I found your blog. You are definitely not a fuck up when it comes to writing.

January 28, 2005 at 2:31 AM  

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