Looking Back on #Unveiled
A month ago, my friend Mehnaz Thawer came up with an idea; everyday for the month of September she would post a short sentence or concept about herself that people generally don’t know. Twitter hashtag use was perfect for a project like this, but she also elaborated on her answers each day on her blog. She encouraged others to join in the idea. I did so. While she kept a running commentary each day on her unveiled fact, I simply tweeted my choice each day, and am posting an overview of what I put here, on the final day of the project.
I know I have not mentioned some of these truths about me before. Others I have mentioned in passing or only under specific circumstances. In any case, I may not have explored or broadcast much of this before. So if you know me only a little, or think you know me well, there’s something for you here.
So, here are thirty truths about me. One for each day in September.
-Despite having dated and been intimate with several women in my life, I only ever asked one to dance. She said “no”. I was about 16, and at a high school dance. I had been given the impression that the girl in question at least liked me as a person. I didn’t have any impression that some hot romance was on the wing, but from what I’d gathered about her, and what she thought of me, I figured we might both enjoy a dance, and at least get to know one another. She rejected the notion so quickly and with such amusement that I was more hurt than embarrassed. Since that day, I’ve literally had more sexual encounters than I have dancing with a woman, so difficult is that memory. I never asked anyone again.
-Due in part to time I spent as a younger person in a radical Christian School, I have an aversion to the number six to this day. My mother didn’t know it was that kind of Christian school at the time. Though eventually spent a great deal of energy trying to explain to her how hateful the place was, she seems not to have understood, as I spent the next two years there. (7th and 8th grade.) Eventually she did understand, and I chose not to attend high school there. But in addition to tirades against gays, video games, Progressive values, and other religions, (and that was just in the math text book), the Number of the Beast was beaten into our heads pretty regularly. I’ve sense learned from more reputable scholarship that that number is not necessarily “666” as such people understand it literally. Nevertheless, I don’t like there to be 6 of anything. I have other problems I developed from that school, but that’s the easiest to explain. (Also, I’m a little OCD probably.)
-Excluding family, only two people in my ENTIRE life have ever apologized for deeply hurting/offended me. Two. (And half the time, not even family.) But in this case I am not talking about bumping into me and spilling my drink. I am talking about when the actions of the other person have obviously hurt me. (Often because I explain to them that they were hurtful.) In all but TWO cases, I am still waiting for the apology from those that inflicted the most pain on me. They will almost certainly never come, because it takes a bigness of spirit to do so. Many of the enthusiastic Christians I know have hurt me deeply, and none of apologized. The two I mentioned with the courage to acknowledge my pain/offense were an Athiest, and someone of undefined spiritual orientation. (At least at the time.) I consider both people among the most important people in my life, due in no small part to the fact that they had the decency to apologize. It’s a big deal, folks.
-I rarely throw parties because almost nobody ever comes to them. It’s true that I live in a somewhat rural area that would take a bit of driving for some of my friends/former friends to get to. Plus my house is small. But in the last ten years, before I parted ways with a lot of local people, I literally made the drive scores of times to attend the parties of other people. It has never been reciprocated. Few things are as humiliating as planning a party that nobody comes to attend. I was even house sitting a large country home with free food and everything and only two people showed up briefly. I invited at least a dozen. It’s hurtful to me, because it is like a chorus of “friends” saying, “you are not worth the time it takes to plan, or the gas money it takes to get to where you are.”
-When I speak, I feel that people are only truly listening to/understand me about 50% of the time. So I write. People wonder why I end up semi-shouting when I have an important point to make to a room. Usually it is because I’ve been looking right at people as I talk, and they look away or start talking to someone else. Maybe my voice is softer than I think, but that sort of “May I have your attention please?” approach gets exhausting. So I keep this blog, write messages to people, and pursue my fiction. I can’t guarantee anybody will read my stuff, of course. But I can at least be assured that my entire thought will be presented without interruption, and that seems rare when a group of people try to speak to one another about something important.
-I was psychologically bullied on a consistent basis in three consecutive schools. Little was done about it. My mother tried to do things about it, but telling me how I could handle it, and such. Eventually she put me in different schools. More than once. But despite making a few friends along the way, (who never stood up for me during the bullying, however), I had to deal with near constant, mean spirited teasing from 4th grade until most of 9th. In 9th I told the high school athletes to fuck off under no uncertain terms, and though they laughed as I did it, they did, basically quit after that. But that was due to my actions, and in 9th grade I was ready to make them. Before that, no effort was made by the authorities at any of my schools. In a few cases, the teachers actually joined in, and tried to convince me it was all in fun. (You read it correctly…in a few cases the teachers joined in.)
-From adolescence on, my closest friends have tended to be female. This requires no elaboration. It’s straightforward. Though I am not sure why it is true, exactly. Maybe it’s an introvert thing in reality, and I just know more introverted women than men. But I suspect part of it is that i was raised in a household, (after my father died) with two women, and had no male role models at any point in my life. I had a brother, but he was not in general bothered with me, as he was an adult. No other men stepped up when they had the chance. So, I got used to women, and the way they think and act, I suppose. An interesting note, many of my female best friends over the years have said that they relate better to men, and always have.
-I wish all meetings were conducted by Roberts Rules of Order. Not the most potent or personal #unveiled that I shared, but it is very much part of who I am. There is zero excuse for meetings to be chaotic. Yet almost without fail people say, “we’ll just make it informal, and get it over with.” Guess what? The more important the task at hand, the less likely a group is to get something done “informally”. Plus, with any group of people somebody will want to talk more, and others less. Remember I mentioned that I don’t think people are listening to me half the time? When everyone gets to talk in their turn for a specified amount of time, everyone gets to speak, if they want to. This isn’t hard, and it shows a professionalism and commitment to what you are doing. I HATE meetings otherwise.
-I hate coming of age stories. I don’t find a young person’s first love or first sexual experience dramatic. It’s fake drama. Part of this dislike is due to how often writers and move makers dip into this same well. Enough already. A lot of it also has to do with the fact that my “coming of age” was not typical, and I resent the notion that fairy tale novels and books support of an ideal for that milestone. And while I know “coming of age” doesn’t have to mean romance/sex, in the context of fiction it almost always does, and that just doesn’t interest me. Why is the first time Sue has sex, or the first time John sees a girls breast in person interesting? I enjoy seeing naked women, and I enjoy being with them. But it doesn’t make interesting fiction. And to be honest, the first time those things happened to me, I didn’t feel the earth was changing, and I didn’t hear a choir sing. It was just time to do something the first time, and it happened. It quite honestly didn’t change my life. Who cares who is boinking who for the first time?
-At age 7, I rammed my head into a parked car, so I’d have an “excuse” to cry at my father’s wake. I didn’t think I should cry. I don’t have an explanation as to why I felt this way. Nor can I tell you how it should come to pass that a seven year old child is able to think in such a layered fashion. But I felt what I felt, and did what I did. For understandable reasons, I don’t really want to delve much more into this one today, or you know, ever.
-I despise only one ex. She cheated on me, broke up with me in a heartless manner, and I sincerely think is a clinical psychopath. She would deny it if ever asked, of course she would. But we had plans to be married. That’s because nobody before or since this woman felt as initially tuned into what I am, and what I need. It quickly changed after a while, and she became a totally different person. She was often whatever she needed to be to get what she wanted at any given moment, I eventually noticed, and she never regretted it. “Deal” is what she would usually say when I was confused or hurt by something. I should have broken up with her when I knew what was going on. When I knew she had simply thought she wanted me for a time, morphed into what she had to to get me, and when I was dismissed, morphed into something else, and damn the pain it caused anyone. That’s a psychopath. Most of them are actually not violent, and she was not. She’s married with children now, (with the guy she cheated on me with), and I don’t think she does evil things to her kids. But she never showed much empathy for anyone but herself and she nearly destroyed me. Many of my friends are still friends with her to this day, and that bothers me. They didn’t comfort me in the pain I was in at the time. I’ve forgiven most of them for that, but I will never understand why they like a psychopath.
-I own more than a dozen decks of cards. Sometimes to focus or relax I will put each of them in order, only to shuffle them again. Just a little thing I do. Especially as I listen to audio books. It started with one deck, but as I got different decks for Christmas or birthdays, I’d add them to the procedure. It’s almost a sort of collection now. You don’t need a lot of decks to do it, though. Try it sometime. It’s more relaxing than you think.
-I’m a writer. But sometimes just before I sit down to write something I feel apprehensive and maybe the slightest bit ill. That is probably just fear. Of what? Ask all the other writers you’ve ever known. They won’t be able to answer it any better than I can. But they will know what I’m talking about…
-I rarely drive on highways and freeways. In fact almost never. They make me very tense and nervous. I’ve paid a price. Yes, my social life and job prospects over the years have suffered from this. But what can I say? I tense up and get nervous. I feel like there is a target on my back when I am on certain highways. Could I get over it someday? Not without training/help. So it’s back roads for me.
-Though I am not one myself, I have always had a certain affinity for the Jewish. If past lives are real, (I think it is possible) I think I must have been Jewish in one of mine. Even if not, I have for a long time been drawn to Jewish things. I am not a scholar on them. (Though, I do already know most of the things on lists called, “Things You Never Knew About Jewish People”. ) I think part of it is that Jewish people, at least the religious leaders among them, are in generally not afraid of intellect. They will wrestle with God and the Scriptures to figure out what is going on. They will disagree on the outcomes among one another, but still each other Jewish. I saw a movie once called the Disputation. In it, a Rabbi and a Christian in the Middle Ages are debating the merits of their respective faiths. At one point the Rabbi says about his people something along the lines of, “He is not afraid to look even God in the face and ask questions.” That to me is a big part of being Jewish. As is long suffering. They have been the world’s scapegoat and underdogs, unjustly, for thousands of years in one way or the other. I do not know if in my heart I believe they are specifically chosen by God himself or not. But I firmly believe that few peoples in the history of this planet have been more significant over longer periods of time than those of Judaism.
-As a kid I had several audio plays on cassette about American historical figures. I sometimes still listen to them. They helped a restless kid focus on something and sleep. They also allowed him to spent “time” with the historical figures he thought about so much. Cassette tapes were easy to put in and play for someone who was not especially coordinated as a child. And, though I didn’t recognize it as such then, it was theatre. The tapes, (now converted to CDs to preserve them) are not the finest quality productions ever. But they are an intrinsic part of me. And I still use them to help me sleep some nights. I still want to make an audio play like that myself someday. Maybe some restless kid will listen to it on his ipod or something.
-I have a general dislike of motorcycles and their culture. Controversial I know, but oh well. The vast majority of people on motorcycles simply don’t seem to care about any community or laws but their own. Not the ones I encounter every day, anyway. They alter their engines specifically to make window-shaking noise as they pass through towns. When they travel in groups, they block me from entering the road even when it’s a green light, so their entire group can pass through the red light at one time and not get split up. They weave in and out of traffic as though laws for motor vehicles are only suggestions for them. And then they have the nerve to launch public service campaigns about, “Be aware of motorcycles! Safety First!” I’m quite aware of them, because they are an obnoxious pain in my ass. And perhaps, just perhaps, the higher death rate for their drivers is due to what I have mentioned, and not because the rest of the world isn’t going out of it’s way to remember them.
-I was an adult before I realized that my memory of events, (tiny details, nuanced feelings) is far more potent than most. For the longest time, I thought all people remembered the phrases they uttered and what car we were in driving passed what building on what road when that thing happened 15 years ago. But they don’t. They remember the big strokes. Weddings, graduations, plays, their favorite moments from me and others when we were together. The “greatest hits”. But most people don’t recall the everyday nuance of a time gone by. Sometimes this keen memory of mine is a blessing; people love to be reminded, or informed of the little moments in their lives that meant something to me. (Funny moments are always easiest to remember.) Other times it is a curse…when people opt to cut you out of their lives, I remember every slight feeling from when we would hang out in said environment. So much so, that it sometimes take a few years before I will go back to a restaurant I last entered with someone who had abandoned me.
-I usually buy my clothes a size or two larger than I would need, because I hate tight clothing. I just don’t like constricting clothing. I know ideally people look best when clothes are tailored to them. I only have that done when I am in a play, and even then, when the numbers say that a given alteration will have the ideal fit, it usually feels at least a bit tight than I prefer. Especially near my neck.
-If you aren’t out of town, or in the midst of an emergency, it kind of hurts my feelings when you don’t return my messages. People get busy, I get it. But in this world of instant communication, where i can literally press a button and send a message in a matter of seconds to someone on the other side of this continent, being busy just seems like a lame excuse to me. Once in a while is one thing, but when you only reply to my messages on occasion, and even then after considerable delay (days)…well, I often feel like you can’t be bothered with me.
-I proceed slower in sexual matters than most men, (and some women.) Men aren’t supposed to admit that, but, I just did. Again, I enjoy sexual activity. But it just isn’t the motivating force for what I do every day. Plus, I have found that if two people take the time to be intimate for a while in other areas, being sexual is more enjoyable. I don’t even mean that all sex need be with someone you intend to spend the rest of your life with. But even people who just want to eliminate some loneliness and have some fun for a few months don’t have get started right away on having sex. I mean if that’s your thing, I am fine with it. But it is not usually my thing. I don’t like prudish people, I will admit. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to take a bit of time with things first. A few weeks, maybe, in the least? It really is better for me when I can explore a person before I “explore” a person.
-In my country, I think patriotism sometimes goes too far. Again, controversial. But when someone hides behind their own flag in order to grant themselves infallibility, it’s too far. No country is infallible. No country is never wrong. My own included. It is the best place on earth for me to live, and it is true for many. But I can’t love my country to the point that I assume other cultures are merely incomplete, waiting to join the United States. There are other people of different mindsets that feel their own country in the best on earth, and if I have to call them wrong in order to love my own country, that’s patriotism gone too far. So is having to express it all the time. I should not have to prove constantly that I am patriotic. I shouldn’t have to stand for any song that isn’t the national anthem, just because “America” is mentioned in it. When I am made to feel I must show my patriotism in order to be considered a good citizen, patriotism has gone too far. I think each of these things happens a lot in the United States, sadly.
-I need my time alone, but generally speaking, I am the loneliest person I know of. Often when I most need company. I don’t know why. Maybe I am just not pleasant company. Maybe it’s because I live in a rural area. Maybe everyone is busy at the exact same time all the time. Maybe none of these things, or all of them. I only know that just because I am introverted, that doesn’t mean I don’t ever want people around. Having somebody, anybody available on a regular basis just to talk would be a great comfort to me sometimes. At present, I don’t have anyone outside of family to fill such a position. (Even though I make myself available to others for same.)
-Soon I intend to find out officially if I have clinical anxiety. I have been forced to admit in the last year or so, it feels like I may have it. I see signs of sickness or danger for my loved ones all the time. So I am going to find out.
-I detest when people are late for something. Especially when it is habitual. People who are late every single time are saying to me, “whatever it is you are doing, it’s not important to me. You (or this project) are a low priority in my life, because no matter what happens, every single day there are many things more important than making a plan and putting in the extra effort to be somewhere when I said I was going to be.” It’s breaking your word when you do it all the time. To be unreliable is to be untrustworthy.
-I did not have imaginary friends as a child. Instead, I talked to American historical figures. The Founding Fathers, mostly. But sometimes it would be Lincoln or JFK.
-I want to lose 15 pounds, but I have not succeeded so far. I am not obese, but I am not totally satisfied with my weight. Most days I walk at least two miles at a brisk clip, and at least once a week I try to walk four miles at the same clip. I have cut out most white flour, don’t drink soda often. (Usually I just drink water.) Dessert is an occasional thing. But I am not losing the weight. I don’t know why.
-Without any sense of narcissism I sincerely believe that at one point at least two of my friends were latently in love with me. I don’t know if they were/are in love with me, and refuse to say so, thinking I don’t sense anything, or if I am sensing something they are not aware of. And of course, I could be dead wrong. But I read between the lines. I take note of when they contact me. I notice word choices and take inventory of their behavior. I’m not a wizard of romance, but I have instincts, and they tell me what they tell me.
-I feel obligated to applaud anyone’s performance, unless they are terrible, or it’s clear they aren’t trying. I have booed ONCE. I guess it’s the performer in me. If someone is trying, i know what it’s like to be up there. Which may be why when someone isn’t trying, I don’t clap, and in one case just hissed at what he was doing. It was abundantly clear to me he was up there just to have people look at him and listen to him. His jokes were terrible, his chemistry with the audience almost non-existent, and he was holding up the rest of the show. So I hissed his 10th shitty joke of the evening.
-I sometimes have to put in a great deal of effort to not think of certain things that used to be. I usually lose that fight. I think the potent memory plays a role here. As does regret at things never quite being what I want in my life, and the various obstacles that have been thrown in my way by other people. The bad luck. Memories of better times. Vivid imagination. It’s all quite a fertile breeding ground for “What If?” or “Used to be”
-I pray each day, but I confess it doesn’t usually comfort me. In fact, it feels like an obligation I must keep or face consequences. Not sure what the consequences would be. I don’t think to think about it. This is due in part to my being a seeker, as well as being a bit obsessive over certain things I guess. Also, my time in the radical Christian school may account for this as well.
This was a fascinating at at times challenging project. I hope some of you that have read this far have learned something about me. Hopefully I have learned something about myself.