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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hauntings From Past Lives

Thursday night was a long night for me. Not for the fact that work was particularly hard (it was busier than expected) but because I was in the midst of thinking of making a change in writing style. My friends and I were discussing the descriptive process in writing; description is my weakest area of writing, I get flustered with it because I don't know how to properly do it. I'm not a person who's very physically aware (as the multiple cuts/bruises will attest throughout my body). I run into things and don't notice them till well after, I cut myself and don't notice it until it bleeds on something I can see ... you get the idea.

So, the point was made that I am not a physical person. That physicality eludes me and that is a very true point, one which I agreed with. So, throughout work on Thursday night I was attempting to come up with a solution to this problem; I certainly can't evolve my writing style (which at this point does description modestly at best) if I can't describe things. I tried to describe what I was doing in my mind as I was doing it, but only came away frustrated because I was falling back on cliched writer phrases.

There wasn't anything unique there and there certainly wasn't anything worthy of even making the attempt. I got off work, got back to my bed and proceeded to try to sleep. But my mind was obsessing over this and my solution was an outright failure (which I hate) and sleep completely evaded me. I was stuck trying to figure this out.

Since I couldn't determine a solution for the problem, I needed to determine the root cause of the problem. My brain is capable of taking a trip in the wayback machine anytime it wants; my memory, oddly, is good at recalling the details of the past with pretty decent clarity. So, I was lost Thursday night/Friday morning in my past lives.

My past lives were not pretty. Now, people like to joke and think they were a king or a famous artist in a past life, but the fact is that everyone has multiple lives in their life. We are constantly evolving as human beings and we leave behind past selves -- past lives -- as we continue on our journey.

My mind reached way back as I lay in bed trying to sleep. Why was I so poor at describing physical things? My lack of physical awareness had to stem from something but what could it be?

Thinking back to my childhood, I couldn't really pin it on any one thing. There weren't any traumatic events that scarred me for life. I just operated very much the same way I do now up to a certain point in my childhood. As a child I was an intelligent thinker, but social enough -- I was on plenty of sports teams and I was still telling the same, lame, pun-type jokes I do today. Sarcasm was strong with me (my understanding of it was not as strong then), but I liked making people laugh. I was energetic. I was ready to have fun at a drop of a hat.

And then things changed. Now, I realize that I'm a broken record by this point, but I think I'm just failing to properly explain myself on this point ... or maybe I just don't know how to explain it and I have to keep trying till I do it right. Whatever the case, here's the bottom line: going from skinny kid to fat kid changes everything. Everything.

So, when I went from skinny kid to fat kid, I began another life in my life; the life of the fat kid. No one wants to hold hands with the fat kid. Or dance. Or do much of anything, really, that involves physicality. When you're the fat kid, you exist in a bubble. No one touches you. You touch no one. Everyone gets by fine.

It didn't take long for me to realize this. I wasn't exactly the most emotionally stable kid from 3rd grade to 5th or 6th. I had days where I freaked out over dumb things. Like lost pencils, misplaced handkerchiefs or forgotten things (jackets/books/lunch money). I forgot a lot of things when I became the fat kid. My mental clarity took a huge hit.

"Oh, that's easy to say in retrospect," you must be thinking but its true; I was known (not very fondly) as "The Absentminded Professor" (dating myself here, but this nickname was based on Flubber and the Robin Williams portrayal of the titular character) amongst my family for many, many years from this point on. Up till I graduated high school as a matter of fact.

I forgot things. I got frustrated. And I isolated myself. I threw myself into the realm of TV and video games (probably the least healthy thing I could have done) and my primary existence was that. Not just for those years, not just for junior high, not just for high school but for most of college, too.

That's a lot of years, about 13 or so, where my days after school boiled down to the following: get home from school, grab a snack, do homework, watch TV/play video games till dinner, eat dinner, watch more TV, bath and bed. Admittedly, this is where I did a lot of Star Trek watching (Voyager in particular as it was the family's show, we watched the entire thing from beginning to end when it originally broadcast) so it's not exactly all bad.

But as a dear friend of mine pointed out while we were drinking wine months back, exactly how that'd work out for me? The point was blunt then, it's blunt now and it was right both times. What good did it do? I lived in a bubble of isolation. My social skills became retarded as I grew older and here I sit, at the ripe old age of 25 and I'm doing guess work on things people younger than me by many years have a decent understanding of.

My problems stem from this period of my life, where I was the fat kid/guy. My social skills fell off a cliff, my activity level went with it and my sense of humor went from generally well balanced to just mean. I was a wannabe insult comic for most of high school/college and feasted off the weaknesses of others ... if I make fun of them, they can't make fun of me. Strike first, strike hard.

It was a self-defense mechanism in many respects but it was a dick thing to do to others and to be. I still fallback on that from time to time, though I generally just try to keep things humorous based off wordplay/situations/references/impressions.

The lack of physicality just didn't extend to those around me outside my home but very much in my home as well. I don't come from a hugging family. We just don't really hug but I pretty much eschewed any and all forms of physical contact from everyone, including my family. I suck at hugs now because of this.

As I was discussing earlier in the week, my experience level in life is low. Really low. I essentially took 13 years off from developing into a human being to be ... miserable, really. I don't know much about the things I write about. Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll. All are beyond me, way beyond me.

Physicality and my lack of descriptive abilities in romantic settings is a direct result of being the isolationist I was in that past life. I somehow managed to kiss three girls in that 13 year timespan (mystery of life) and that's all I've ever done.

I've never made it past first base. And even that was an intentional walk, really, and it happened once many years ago.

(If at this point you're wondering why admit this at all to the internet, as anything that touches this place will forever remain, that's a post for another day. But there's a reason.)

How, exactly, do I manage to write scenes that go far beyond that? And have people praise me for it despite not knowing a damned thing about it personally? It's not as though that subject matter is one that's discussed in detail by those that have experienced it.

Observation. It's my best tool and one cultivated over that 13 year period where I existed and didn't live. I watched. I listened. Now, this translates well enough in writing but even those scenes are lacking a key element with the description.

Writers write based on experience in a lot of what they do and I am likely the most ill-equipped of the bunch due to my lack of experience. The idea of physicality with a girl freaks me the fuck out. Panic. Inducing. Freak out. The idea of it makes my chest tighten and my mind hit warp 9 (that's really, really fast). I was having a nightmare just last night about that.

I ended up at a travel center in the middle of a highway. I had just made out with a girl and was literally having a panic attack while pumping gas into my car. I stumbled into the travel center, called my closest friend on the phone and tried to get her to call me down. It was failing dramatically, then the attendant came over and asked if I needed an ambulance, which I absolutely refused (because I'm a stubborn SOB) and I wandered back out to my car, feeling like I was having a heart attack; the pain was there and it was a lot and I was struggling to breathe and talk, all the while trying to not to worry my friend. I ended up collapsing to the ground, passing out and waking up in an ambulance.

Apparently, I was dead for minutes and I didn't see a white light: I was at the Bruno Mars Super Bowl halftime show.

The ending is whack, but the rest of that? Likely stuff. I woke up from that at 6 something this morning sweating with a racing pulse.

It's the details that freak me out about that more than anything because I'd be hyper-analyzing everything I did, looking for ways to improve upon at least one stupid mistake I made in that situation. Hell, I can't even tell you where my hands are supposed to go (hips? back? arms?) or what exactly comes after ... or before, for that matter, because I've never initiated it.

Let me put it this way: We have this guy here ...

and then we have this guy here ...

Both are me, apparently. The first picture popped up on my news feed this morning and is likely from 08-09 if I were to guess. The second picture is from late this past December. The fat me is the guy who was always like that, for years on end, who was 180 lbs at 13-years-old and had pretty much given up on ever being anything other than what he was.

Fat me is about to tear into that burger with reckless abandon.

And then we have thin me ... who can't possibly exist. Yet does. This is what I am currently. I won't lie, I'm afraid I'll go back to fat me in a heartbeat. I have nightmares to that effect every so often. But fat me, I've known for a long time. We grew up together. That face was my face, period, never to be different.

I remember nights in the shower where I'd just stare down at my gut and wonder how it got so big. Sometimes I'd vainly try to suck it in in front of the mirror, just to see if it made any difference. It never did. But that gut? That was me and I accepted that.

And now I'm picture number two. No real gut to speak of (just a sad sack of loose skin) and a body that doesn't match anything. Let me be frank here, just to show I'm trying to really get this to be understood, there's NO WAY I should exist as I am. No scenario I ever ran in the 13 years I existed as a fat kid/guy ever included this. None.

I don't know what to do with what I am now. I'm bucking the trend ... statistically, someone who's lost 133 pounds in 11 months like I did should be gaining that weight back plus some at this point. I am not. I sit at 145 and have been that since the summer really. I do right most days of the week, I occasionally cheat but when I do cheat I never do it badly. Just a little.

My life as fat me was supposed to be my life, period. Nothing else. And now its not and I'm apparently stylish (so I'm told) and I jump into social situations as often as I can not knowing what to really do other than to just try. I'm falling back on skinny kid me tendencies and strategies, trying to adapt them for the 21st century.

My lives have been weirdly split up and that's why I suck at description. That's my problem. I took 13 years off and am just now learning things I should have learned in junior high/high school. I'm old. I look young. I have little experience in life and in most facets of life. I write about things I know little to nothing about.

I'm not the fat guy anymore. But the mindset is proving to be increasingly difficult to get through ... an absolute fact that I never considered possible to change is no longer an absolute. I'm haunted by those past lives.

Not sure how to reconcile that.

Thanks for reading, folks. God bless.

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