Exactly As I Am: Daily Prompt

You’ve imbibed a special potion that makes you immortal. Now that you’ve got forever, what changes will you make in your life? How will you live life differently, knowing you’ll always be around to be accountable for your actions?

 

These questions triggered an epiphany: If I were going to live forever, beginning today, I would not change one single solitary thing.

If I live forever or only for another week, I stand by my decisions, confident that I made (most of) them with integrity. I do my best at (pretty much) everything, no matter when, where or what. Furthermore, my intentions are (almost entirely) pure. I want to help people, I am driven by an insane passion to help people and to make the world a better, healthier place.

I even considered my family. Though they presumably wouldn’t live forever, my aim would be to make them as comfortable as possible, and I believe the best way to do that is to just keep pursuing my passions. I think an immortal life would be quite sad and bleak at times, as all the people you ever cared for died and faded away. However, an immortal consciousness would also attain an incredible amount of knowledge, experience, compassion and wisdom which could be put to infinitely good use.

 I think that, as medical science and technology advance, the human lifespan will extend well beyond 100 years, and maybe even longer (consider this short story by Isaac Asimov, The Last Question). It is an enormous relief and comfort to know that I am living today the way I would if I were going to live forever. I don’t presume to be perfect, but I feel that, just for today, just for right now, I’m doing the best I can (and that’s pretty damn good).

I need a vacation.

Summertime makes me restless. There’s something so unwholesome about sitting inside in the shade and positively cold with the air conditioning going when outside it is sweltering, unmercifully hot and so humid it feels like you might drown. I get unbearably anxious being inside on a summer day, no matter how “gross” other people think it is outside. I crave the sunshine and the heat, the sweat trickling down my knees. (Don’t get me wrong, though, when it’s time to go to bed at night- my god am I ever glad I have air conditioning!)

And today when I was out enjoying this ghastly, oppressive heat, it started to rain, just lightly at first and then a downpour. I opened my arms and turned up my face, and drank the rain right from the sky (then I stopped because I think rain is probably polluted but whatever).

The rain soaked my clothes, the water was cold. I imagined the rainstorm starting somewhere far away north in Canada, bringing water all the way down here. I imagine the pine trees and glaciers and mountains with their snowy peaks. I imagine the storm brewing out in the Atlantic, with nothing but water and clouds for miles and miles. I imagine the rain moving farther south to nourish Central America and the equatorial tropical islands, I imagine lush jungles and exotic birds.

I ache to be somewhere else. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just the summertime making me antsy but I am overwhelmed by a desire to go somewhere else. I haven’t strayed more than 30 minutes away from home in well over a year and it’s driving me mad. A plethora of obligations and a dearth of funds keep me in place, perhaps for the better. The next time I see the coast I might just stay there!

The potato goes in the FRONT of your speedo

My name is Jack. Jack Knife.

Jack Knife, at present, never sees the light of day. A few months ago, during a manic fit of spring cleaning, I donated almost all of my clothes to Goodwill. A lot of them were my clothes but some… some of them belonged to Jack. And where Jack used to occasionally come out at night and dance and lip synch with me in my bedroom, he doesn’t any more. He can’t.

I’m not sure what my motivation was to get rid of all those clothes. Part of it is the ever-elusive de-cluttered and re-organized life I hope to lead. Partially, it was a purge of all the wreckage of my past. But surely I didn’t have to give all of Jack’s clothes away. I am ashamed of Jack, maybe I’m trying to kill him off. But he won’t go away. Every day he cries out to me from deep inside my soul where I’ve relegated him to a dark corner. He screams when I look in the mirror and kicks me in the gut when I get dressed.

I hope that I can homogenize myself to the point that Jack is a part of me no matter what clothes I’m wearing, but right now I feel like something is missing.

One day I want to let Jack go up on stage. I dream of this secretly and fairly often. I have been to many drag shows where I see men dressed as beautiful women “singing” songs that have touched their hearts, and reaching out to touch others with the mystique of their art. I feel somehow that this type of outlet doesn’t exist for Jack, primarily due to my crippling shyness but also due to lack of venue. I’ve never been to a show with drag kings. I saw one once at a show with mostly queens and he was terrible, he seemed to lack the energy and passion of the queens (though he may have just been nervous, poor guy).

Ever since my sophomore year in high school, I’ve used Halloween as an excuse to dress as a man in earnest.The first time I did it, that was my costume. “What are you supposed to be?” “Oh, I’m a dude.” “Just a random dude?” “Yeah.” I feel like that’s the only time I can go all-out, with facial hair and everything, and not be ridiculed. Hell, I was ridiculed, but I didn’t care. That’s what Halloween is about, man. So I look forward to it all year as the one time I can be Jack, out in the open.

I used to wear sport coats and button-downs as pseudo-drag when I went partying, looking plenty androgynous but not as manly as I would’ve liked. But I don’t drink any more, so I didn’t wear those clothes any more except, on very rare occasion, to be Jack, at home, alone, in my room, with the door locked and the curtains drawn. It feels like Jack doesn’t have a place in my life any more, and it feels like I’m denying a big part of myself this way.

Maybe I should get Jack an outfit and see what happens. At the very least, during my quiet time tonight, I’m wearing an eyeliner mustache.

A mad scientist spliced David Bowie with Joan Jett and they got me.

I’m a world-famous rock and roll singer. I belt, I scream, I wail, I croon, I bawl, I curse, I praise, I make love and spew hate. Simon Cowell critcises every performance and I invariably give him a verbal smackdown, leaving the audience in stunned silence before it erupts into thunderous applause. Rolling Stone magazine praises my debut album as “high-energy” and “danceable,” “catchy” and “raw,” “the best album in ten years.” My shows sell out stadiums everywhere. Hong Kong, London, Paris, Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu. Ladies melt for me and throw their thongs, men tremble when I look at them and bend to my every beckon call. I am never without company when I want it, but they know to leave me alone when I want some quiet time.

But most of all, everyone loves me, everyone sees how amazing I am. And they think I’m a good dancer, even if I don’t. People are entertained by my shows, they sing along to all my songs, some of them even cry when I sing my cover of “Creep,” because they hear the anguish in my voice and they too don’t belong here. They dance and scream and whoop. I crowdsurf. I autograph CDs and pictures and cleavage.

It’s the life I dream of, but is it the life I want? When I get there, do I still feel empty inside? In a stadium packed with 10,000 people gathered to hear my voice, my music, do I still feel like I’m on an island, drifting out in the Antarctic ocean?

Or am I electrified by the power of reaching out to touch 10,000 lost souls just like mine? Am I vibrating with the expression and love? Am I exploding with energy and passion like I do today? Can it be real? Can it be mine? Can this hollow, shiny dream ever really come true?

What’s more, do I really want it to?

I will find you

You had an aura of authority about you. I was new to the job and pathetically desperate to be liked; my simpering and smiling did absolutely nothing to impress you. In fact, you gazed at me with deliberate apathy on your impassive face. I think somewhere deep down I knew you were partially putting me on, but I suppose I was genuinely annoying as well.

I got to know you a bit better. We went out drinking with coworkers, as coworkers, my capacity for liquor and effusive cynicism impressed you (my smile probably didn’t hurt, either). We stayed out late with the gang, we sang karaoke, we smoked and drank the nights away.

You invited me to your home one holiday, you showed me your bedroom. I was impressed by it all, and awestruck by the beauty of your heart. I found you fascinating and attractive, and I found myself wanting to take you in to my arms and kiss you forcibly until you kissed back. I invited you to my home as well and gazed longingly at the bed. We were just friends, after all, just coworkers. But I found the heat rising to my face with you standing in my bedroom as I gave you the grand tour.

You were a sensitive soul. You wanted to go skinny dipping, to go walking in the night to find the light at the top of the tower, to drive far and go stargazing, to walk barefoot fearlessly in the city. You wrapped crystals and had a windchime in your car. Your aura was green, and I knew it, but I didn’t want to say so for fear of sounding stupid.

I moved a hundred miles away, essentially severing all ties with that place, including you.

We never spoke of the softer, deeper things, and I regret it. I miss you. I feel like I found a kindred spirit in you and lost it cruelly, but I think you had that effect on many people. I think maybe I wasn’t special to you, and that’s why I never told you how I felt.

That part of my life is over now. I hope you’re well, and I hope you’re happy, I hope you learned to fly. I’ll most likely never see you or speak to you again (I hope I’m wrong), but I have determined that I will find you in the next life and love you fiercely as I couldn’t in the last.

Derecho of the Heart

Today the weather was sunny and grey at turns, which was perfect, I thought, because it matched the climate of my heart. I pine for love, I revel in the glory of an early summer day, demons dog my every step and I beat them back with my bare fist. A long day, a productive one. My body is heavy with fatigue and contentment from a wholesome dinner, I still feel full of watermelon. Nothing better than a big bowl of ripe, chilled watermelon.

My zinnias are blooming, the aphids seem to have quit my peach bonsai, and fat little clusters of flower buds are forming on the mimosa trees. It rained so hard today that I couldn’t see twenty feet in front of me. It quit after about ten minutes, though. After it rained, the heat and humidity gave way to a sublime evening. The setting sun shredded the rainclouds as they dissipated, streaking the damp landscape with a delicious, warm yellow light.

My heart is heavy still, here at the end of the day, but I give it to you freely. You can make it light again. You can lift the troubles from on top of it with both of your hands, like so many glass marbles, and you can cast them aside for me. Then you can take your hands and touch my face, and I can touch yours, and we’ll embrace in the glow of the dying day; there may never be another like this.

“Normal is nothing but a setting on a washing machine.”

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A wise lady once told me that “Normal is nothing but a setting on a washing machine.”

My entire life I’ve been ostracized as a weirdo. When I was very young, in grade school, I was overweight, I wore glasses. I liked to read a lot, so I spoke differently. I liked to draw and lived in my imagination, so I probably seemed spacy or aloof. I smelled like stale cigarette smoke because my mother smoked in the house. I had no idea how I smelled, how I looked, or how I sounded. I was just there, at school, being a kid at school, trying to do what was asked of me and figure out the world around me. I never had more than one or two friends at a time, and sometimes I even had no friends at all.

I knew I was different because I got teased and nobody would talk to me, but I didn’t understand why. In fact it never occurred to me to ask why, that was just how it was. That was my subjective “normal-” to be ostracized, ridiculed, bullied, stared at, mocked, friendless, lonely. I had a vague idea that it all had something to do with the fact that I was fat, but it hasn’t been until recently (many years later) that I was able to “see” the rest of the picture- the awkward speech pattern, the sour smell, the frumpy clothes, etc.

As I got older I developed a slightly more sophisticated sense of weirdness. I grew resentful of the fact that society didn’t seem to accept me as I was. That phrase, “Normal is nothing but a setting on a washing machine,” has given me the courage to blossom in to a bizarre, gangly, shockingly beautiful flower that is perfectly serene in its weirdness. Because normal doesn’t mean anything at all.

Another idea that gives me great comfort is that comparing your life to someone else’s is unfair because you know every ugly little detail of yourself, but you only see other people’s highlight reel. I think “normal” is just the coalescing of common ideas about which people can superficially bond: Sports teams, shopping, cooking, even blogging. In many respects we’re all “normal” because we all have at least a few things in common. I get up in the morning, I take a piss, I eat breakfast, go to class, eat lunch, go to work, eat dinner, go to sleep. I’d imagine your day looks much the same in glib black-and-white. But it’s the stuff in between that makes us unique- it’s what music we play in the car to and fro, it’s what we do in the soft twilight hours between work and going to bed.

I hate the word “normal.” I prefer to think of it as “average,” as in a mathematical average. A mathematical average is the sum of all the numbers in a set divided by the number of individuals. For example, the average of 3, 5, and 2 is 3.3333333333333333333333333333333333333 ad infinitum. Not only does the average (“normal”) not represent any of the actual numbers we looked at, the average (“normal”) is an infinitely repeating decimal, which is impossible to actually attain. What I’m driving at is that normality is more of a blanket statement to describe a loose aggregate of cultural attributes, rather than a definite term to describe any one human being.

I used to worry about not being “normal.” Sometimes I still do, because it seems implicit that not normal = bad. I wouldn’t say I’m “normal” in a sociological context. I still don’t have friends, I get funny looks out in public (I’m not fat or smelly any more but I dress weird, and talk to myself, and stare at things) and I get the impression that when I interact with people they find it uncomfortable. But for the most part I’m very confident in myself now because I believe in my basic value and goodness as a human being, and I just don’t care whether I’m normal or not.