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[personal profile] thehefner
I think that one of the reasons I became a writer (as if it was an actual choice and not an ingrained compulsion) was due to a lifetime of feeling like I'm unable to communicate with people. Even now, I'm struggling to explain how I've struggled to explain for as long as I can recall. It's like having writer's block in your everyday life.

When you're a kid, you don't have the perspective to really convey how you're terrified by things which seem inconsequential to others. Adults can't read your mind, and others kids are little sociopaths who don't give a shit anyway, so you struggle and fumble and feel utterly impotent to get them to understand what you simply cannot put into words. In some ways, I feel like I haven't grown out of that.

I've gotten better, sure, but I had to go through alternate outlets. Being a withdrawn child who was extroverted only to those interested enough to offer their attention, I think that I pretty much gained the entirety of my socialization through movies, comics, and The Simpsons. I don't think I'm the only one to work this way. Geeks have a hidden language all our own, where we can hold whole conversations with other people's quotes.

Like many geeks, that still meant that I was still socially lopsided with everyone else in the world. That part still hasn't changed. Put me in a room with non-geeks, and I'll still gravitate towards some corner or find a way to vanish entirely, even if it's within myself. I've always identified with the song "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago, and there are often times when I feel like that's not such a bad thing.

Maybe it just happened out of necessity, but I came to enjoy my solitude. I mean, as long as I had the internet, where I can lurk and hide and then choose to make myself visible on my own terms. But that's been getting harder and harder of late. The geek landscape is changing into something that's as socially alien and unwelcoming to me as any neighborhood block party or distant-family reunion. For months now, I've been trying to explain the sense of loss and detachment I feel from comics and geek communities, how I increasingly don't recognize those who should be my kind, how my safe space has been renovated and redecorated when I wasn't looking, and co-opted by people who are only superficially my peers. Maybe it's always been like this. Maybe I've only noticed it now that I have the courage to reach out and try to mingle, rather than keeping to my own corner of geekdom.

...Damn, that's what I've been doing, isn't it? Keeping to my corner again. Dash it all, I liked my corner! It was safe, it was fun, it was a place to put all my issues (ha-ha, pun)! But I can't go back. I've gotten too big for it.

So I tried to go out and make a new corner, but this one would be in real life (well, theatre life, so only halfway real), and might actually make me money. Fringe Festivals have been amazing experiences which have forced me to interact with people, to summon up the courage to face a machine-gun blast of rejection whenever I hand out fliers for my solo comedy to a group of people lined up for an experimental dance show, with the hope that maybe one person might be interested and then I could afford dinner. It's been great, and I'm dedicated to doing it as long as I can.

But I still haven't quite learned how to turn off the invisibility switch. Four years in, and I'm still struggling to get audiences. It's not because my shows are bad, as I've gotten way more positive than negative reviews. Every festival seems to have another handful of audience members who love my shows and do everything in their power to talk me up to others. So yes, I'm very well-liked... when people actually see me. The problem is getting the interest in the first place. Four years, and I'm still flying under the radar. Lately, I'm just feeling weighed down by the utter lack of interest in anything I have to offer, and I don't know how to market myself better. I've learned so much, and yet it seems like Mr. Cellophane is too ingrained.

But I still perform. I have to. Garrison Keillor said it best: "If you're lucky enough to stay in it for a while, you realize that [storytelling is] a performance art in which the purpose is to gain intimacy with people whom you will never, ever know. To become intimate with strangers." To me, those words felt like an uppercut of truth. Thing is, Keillor meant it for older people like himself, saying that intimacy was "easier" for young bucks like me. God, I hope not. Don't tell me that this gets harder.

And it is hard, harder than I can get anybody to fully understand. Like, I so need to communicate what I've been going through over the past year, to cleanse myself of all these events with words, preferably funny words. But to do so, I'd need a book's worth of words to describe the whole picture. I've been trying for months now to explain how tired I've been, and the exact WAYS I've been tired. Trying and failing. It's not just the pregnancy thing, and even that alone hasn't been your typical experience for impending parenthood. There's the traveling, the RV situation, the moving, the writing, the not-writing, the death of a pet, all these things which most people have some experience, but not ours. Not mine. And if I can't get them to understand, I feel like I have no one to blame but myself.

... Oh, duh. God, I'm so stupid. Of course this is yet another thing that goes back to being the child of an alcoholic and mentally ill parent, isn't it? The inability to get people to understand something in which they have no basis of comparison. The desperate, burning need to communicate with a language that no one speaks. Not unless you've been in the area.

So thank god for Henchgirl. She gets it. She gets it better than I ever thought anyone else could get it. And I mean, all of it, everything from the parental stuff to the geek passion and all the invisible, intangible things that fly under my own radar, but are still there, still present, still represented. She gets it. Regular geeks speak the same language, but Henchgirl and I speak the same dialect.

We're the sole survivors of the same neighborhood in the same city in the same country of the same planet. And over two years, we've experienced the same way, suffered the same way, laughed the same way, complained the same way, been bored the same way, freaked out the same way, gone delightfully BONKERS the same way, and loved the same way. We've carved out our own little corner, but now--against all odds and reason--we're trying/having to make room for a third.

Don't get me wrong, it's fucking scary to bring someone else into our corner just when it seemed like we get everything just the way we wanted it. It's terrifying, and sometimes don't even seem fair. But even corners aren't meant to be static. Even if you try to keep everything as it was, you just end up like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. Your corners change with you and they change around you. And you can have more than one corner, like I have at least one for comics thanks to [ profile] about_faces, and like I shall continue to cultivate at Fringe Festivals for as long as possible. And eventually, you find someone else to share your corner, someone who likes the decor and digs the atmosphere enough to stick around. Then, if you're really lucky (at least I think it's luck), you can create your own corner together.

So that's what we'll do. That's what we're doing. That's the only way I can really describe it without photos, pie charts, PowerPoint, a few hundred thousand words, and probably Smell-O-Vision. So we'll continue to develop our corner and try keeping up with how it develops around us. And in the meantime, I'll keep trying to learn the language of strangers.

Date: 2011-06-29 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
John...we don't communicate much, but know that I completely and whole-heartedly empaphize with you. I don't come from a background that's nearly as similar, but as to the social problems...put it this way.

Today after moving out of a house I shared with four other guys for a year, I got a text from one of them. It read, among other things, "We hated you", "You have nearly no friends" and "Stay in your castle, good riddance". After a year of having to suffer four people with whom I could not maintain a conversation for three minutes without being ignored or talked over, men with no hygiene, consideration for the noise tolerance of others, and the indecency to repeatedly mock Louis Armstrong's singing voice, I got "This is your fault, not ours".

But I couldn't be happier. Fuck 'em. This world of ours is becoming increasingly more tribal, and these people - who knew I have dyspraxia, low self-confidence, and communication problems - were part of that. Even if real friends (of which I do in fact have many) don't come along into our corners, we hold onto them tightly because we know how truly valuable it is.

Sorry, it might sound like I'm rambling and trying to hog the spotlight. Basically, John, I want you to know that not only did this post fill me with that wonderful hopeful feeling that you get when you know that someone, somewhere, feels exactly the way you do, but it also gives me hope - hope that I could also become a performer, hope that I will someday share a life with someone that is as seemingly unshakeably glorious as the life you and Techie have.

We don't know each other very well, but...thanks. Thanks very much. :)

Date: 2011-06-29 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You weren't rambling nor hogging anything, don't worry. I appreciate you sharing and saying this more than... well, more than I can put into words. It feels like whatever I had today were exhausted by this entry. It means a lot to me, and it gives me hope too. Thanks for that.

Date: 2011-06-30 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Like deadwalrus I would like to say that I empathize with you too. Reading this post, a lot of stuff I just read mirrors a lot my own thoughts, feelings, insecurities and experiences. I can't say that there wasn't a time when I didn't have these thoughts running through my head but couldn't find the words to express it properly. I feel all the better for having read this and thank you for posting this!

We are all trying write our own ending but after a while we are left wondering; how long is it going to take?

Date: 2011-06-30 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're very welcome. Thank you for saying so and chiming in!

Date: 2011-06-30 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are welcome! :)

Also that should be '..our own happy ending..' in my OP. Woops!

Date: 2011-06-30 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I never had a dysfunctional family, but I've always had snarling communications problems with the world around me nonetheless, in spite of being told repeatedly by a diverse range of people that I actually communicate quite well.

I came to realize that it wasn't really a communication problem at all. The rest of humanity is an alien species to me. *I* communicate just fine; THEY'RE the ones who are fucked in the head.

I'm sure I've told you this before, but I was five years old when I started reading the newspaper. Five years old, and the first things I learned about the serious adult world was that it was a place of AIDS, acid rain, Ayatollahs and nuclear arms races. Five years old, and right there, in black and white, were all these adults — Democrats and Republicans, Americans and Russians — who didn't agree on anything else, but they all agreed that the world was going to end, and yet, it didn't stop them — didn't even slow them down — from doing all the same things that they themselves believed would inevitably bring about the end of everything.

The communication problem is with THEM, and NOT with you. FUCK them. I hope THEY get raped to death by packs rabid wild dogs that rip out their guts while they're still alive. The fact that you don't speak THEIR language is proof that you're SUPERIOR to them.

... Oh, look at that; I seem to have stumbled onto a new paradigm for our relationship. ;)

Date: 2011-06-30 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh dear god, no.

... Maybe the true sign that I'll have made it as an internet comics personality is when they start writing slash about us.

Date: 2011-06-30 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's bad that I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the idea of Box/Boy slash. Ordinarily, Miiiiiine. But Box just had to make this about Xavier and Magneto, so my mental wiring has shorted out a little. They're second only to Spock/McCoy as totally slashy OTP.

Date: 2011-06-30 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, YOU'RE the one who wanted us to do a Marvel Two-In-One on you. :P

Date: 2011-06-30 05:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Followed by a Marvel (Double)-Team-Up with your Giant-Sized Man-Thing?

Date: 2011-06-30 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She would serve as our In-Betweener.

Date: 2011-06-30 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
True story: Once made the acquaintance of a girl who owned a Shane Diesel replica dildo that she called "Vykin the Black."

Date: 2011-06-30 06:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
... The "Mother Box" joke is too easy and too cheap.

Date: 2011-06-30 06:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There's an entire untapped market in sex toys named after comic books; Mother Box fleshlights, In-Betweener double-dildos, Black Goliath dildos, rabbit-vibrators modeled after "The Shocker" ...

Date: 2011-06-30 06:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Amusingly, Diesel's nickname of "Blackzilla" would actually make for a fun superhero name.

Of course, when Mark Millar is naming characters "the Toxic Mega-Cunts" as an actual team name in his superhero comics, I wonder if Diesel might not have too much class for modern superhero comics.

Date: 2011-06-30 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But it would make your wife so happy. :)

Date: 2011-06-30 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
john, people have already written slash about eric and i.

Date: 2011-06-30 01:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hah, nice gif. I'm glad other people loved the dynamic between those two as much as I did.

Date: 2011-06-30 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Word. I may have other problems with that film, but they were not among those problems. To hell with the rest of the cast, I'd watch an entire film of Charles and Erik's Excellent Adventure

Date: 2011-07-01 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, the rest of the cast felt pretty slapped-on.. especially the mutants they recruited, besides Mystique and perhaps Beast, it really would have been better without them. With the mutants pared down to Charles, Eric and Mystique versus Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost (incidentally, I know people like to hate on January Jones, but I think she did a pretty good Frost. Although I've always liked Frost so that might be partly just cos I was happy to see her in the film), it would have been pretty damn great.

And I agree, 'Charles and Erik's Excellent Adventure' would be a great film. I'd watch the shit out of that.

Date: 2011-06-30 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm very well-liked... when people actually see me. [...] Four years, and I'm still flying under the radar. Lately, I'm just feeling weighed down by the utter lack of interest in anything I have to offer[...] I've learned so much, and yet it seems like Mr. Cellophane is too ingrained.

Flashy sparkles on the water are overrated. I like green. It's the color of will, you know. :)

Date: 2011-06-30 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh god, no. The song's been ruined for me forever by this:

But your point is taken anyway. *Cuddles*

Date: 2011-07-03 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Surely you've seen this:

(Can't figure out how to embed in a comment, sorry)

Also, relevant to the post itself, I had the most wonderful experience in May that gave me the sense of community that I feel you reaching for here. I was at the Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition (as fieldwork for this year's Fringe play), and I was sitting in the Consuite chatting with people, as one does. My actor walked in, and immediately got down on his knees to play with the resident dog, Tesla. The man sitting across from me gave Chris (the actor) a long considering look, then caught my eye and with a shake of his head said "Baker."

To which I replied, "No, Tennant."

The woman next to him went, "Hmmm, I see the Tennant, but I think Smith."

... and we were off. A 5 minute conversation involving at least 10 people where half the words used were last names of people who have played Dr. Who, and not a single participant (save Chris, who never clued in that we were talking about him) needed the reference explained.

Those are my people, my tribe. I'm thrilled to have found them. I hope you find yours.

(Also: This year I got to put my own name on the same byline as ARTHUR C. FREAKING CLARKE!!! I can now die a happy geek (and almost did, long story).)

Date: 2011-07-03 02:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks. I found them once, for a time. I believe that I'll find them again.

And congrats!

Date: 2011-06-30 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I own a copy of Ray's own recording of it, and I've heard him doing it with the cast of Sesame Street, but I had no idea the duet was on YouTube. This is something I have been after for a VERY long time.

You have my grateful, grateful thanks.

Date: 2011-06-30 02:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sooo... you're not going to have time to give me pointers on writing crappy Two-Face erotica?

Just another reason it sucks to be Harvey Dent. :P

Date: 2011-06-30 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm waiting to see if I get more comments on that chapter (which is to say, any comments about the actual chapter itself) so I can do 'em all in one go, which is the way I kinda have to do things these days with everything else happening.

Date: 2011-06-30 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For what it's worth, I've shamelessly turned my CBR profile into a giant neon advertising sign for your blog and novel.

(I go by RubberLotus on CBR, in case you ever get the crazy urge to join or just browse around.)

Date: 2011-06-30 05:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, hey, wonderful! Thank you so much! Is that Comic Book Resources? I probably won't join, because as you can probably tell here in this post, I just feel out of place around those circles nowadays, but I still appreciate it nonetheless!

Date: 2011-06-30 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Regular geeks speak the same language, but Henchgirl and I speak the same dialect.

Yes. Yes, this, yes lots. I got that lucky and it's so fucking cool I have trouble talking relationship to people who live with second-language speakers. So happy for you that you have it.

Date: 2011-06-30 05:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's kinda still new and weird to me, even two years later.

Date: 2011-06-30 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
( ._.|._. )

This is my hug emote. Really, it kind've looks like two owlships having a moment, but what the hey.

Date: 2011-06-30 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oooh, does Archie have a girlfriend!ship? Maybe they'd show up in Watchmen Babies.

Date: 2011-06-30 06:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What's bad (and telling) is that I pictured that, momentarily went, "awww!" ...and then was horrified at the implications. Thank you, Simpsons for giving us a glorious mind-breaking moment in an otherwise mediocre season.

(Come to think of it, wasn't the Blue Beetle's Bug typically referred to as "she"?)
Edited Date: 2011-06-30 06:35 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-06-30 06:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think so, but Archie the Owlship would be stepping on someone else's OTP.

Date: 2011-06-30 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i am more than proud to be one of the three people who gets it.

Date: 2011-06-30 06:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And I'm glad of that too.

Date: 2011-06-30 06:28 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-06-30 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is beautiful.

Date: 2011-07-03 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, man. Between you, me, and another couple friends on LJ, it seemed like existential navelgazing was all the rage that day.

As for your post, all I can think to say is to second the "go on." Wish I had something more helpful than that, I really do.

Date: 2011-06-30 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Left me with a lump in my throat. This was well written and thought provoking.

Date: 2011-07-03 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That means a lot to me. This was a hard one to write, and I wasn't sure if I pulled it off. Thank you.

Date: 2011-07-04 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good on you - finding someone who speaks the same language is pretty darn rare. (I haven't, but luckily for me, growing up bilingual helps you get passable at translating neuroses, too.)

*sigh* I just wish I couldn't relate to the Mr. Cellophane thing quite as well as I do.

Date: 2011-07-07 01:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
MAO? *confused staring around* MAAAAO??

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