Monday, November 26, 2012

Reinventing Myself

The mirror in my room

You are reading this for one of three reasons. You stumbled upon this blog by accident. You were referred to this blog. Or you follow this blog. There is a very good chance you may know a bit more about the background behind this post. With all events in life, there are always two or more sides. I made the decision to not discuss certain aspects publicly. While I'd love very much for comments, I will delete anything identifying parties involved and I will delete information that goes against this respect. If you are looking for my perspective on past events, you will mostly be disappointed. That said, I cannot post what I want to post without making reference to certain events that took place. That's the closest I'm going to get.

The reason why I'm doing this, publicly, for the first time, is because I'm ready. I've not been ready for a very long time. This goes beyond the time I climbed into my car and took off to Kentucky. This goes back for at least a year, possibly longer. I've not had the ability or the strength to stand up and say what I needed to say. I couldn't say it to myself, let alone to others. There is power in speaking out loud, even if no one is listening. So, this is my voice, giving what I have been thinking strength.

The Things You Leave Behind
In September of this year, I packed up the most important possessions I had the room to pack, climbed into my car, and drove from New York to Kentucky. I left behind my wife, two cats that I will never see again, and so many possessions that I simply didn't have the room to take. The items I left behind had financial value or, more importantly, nostalgic value. Those items, I'm to understand, have been tossed into a dumpster and are gone. For me, I'm very visually based with nostalgia. As I have no sense of smell, I often need to see something to spark a memory. And so many of these memories are gone forever from my life. I left behind people that were good friends or I thought they were good friends. Some of them, decided to terminate their friendship for my departure, others did not. I can still reach out to them. I can still talk to them. But they live a good distance away.

I called my departure, “Pulling an AJ” after a friend of mine who has done this before. Starting over is not an easy process. In fact, the entire event has been hell on earth. One of my friends, one of the few in a circle of friends that disconnected entirely from me pointed out that I'd left one “helluva mess” behind me. And be that what it may, there is absolutely no one living on this planet that knows what kind of a mess I've been dealing with but me. Because, at the end of the day, when everyone is in bed, or everyone has gone home, there is only one person left. That is me. I am the only thing that I cannot truly leave behind.

There are a few people who understand the full scope of the “helluva mess” that I have been in and I still am standing in the middle of. But, again, only I can see the full picture and carry the burden of that full picture on my shoulders. You might see that the sneakers I wear are worn, but you would not know that they are over three years old and the only pair of sneakers to my name. You wouldn't feel the lack of padding in them. Nor would you be aware that I am now down to five pairs of socks without holes in them. Only my roommates are aware of the fact that I moved with no jackets and that the only jacket I have now was a gift of charity. You would not know that my source of income has dropped by a third and that even though I asked my dad for help with gas money, I have not seen a full tank in my vehicle since the day I arrived here. That I have a maxed out credit card on the verge of defaulting and one credit card that is in default. Nor would anyone have the slightest idea the battles I have had to fight in my own head. I have been in utter hell, and I cannot begin to believe that anyone would understand what I have gone through.

Thanksgiving Day was a tipping point for me. Though I had a wonderful observed Thanksgiving Day earlier in the week and a plate of food waiting for me after work, the day was destroyed for me. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is the one day of the year in which you and loved ones can observe the many things to be thankful for. And while I have many things to be thankful for, it was the first time in thirty-three years that I could not celebrate it. I was alone. I will not break that down and explain how I was alone, because that would take too much time in an already very lengthy blog post. I had people available to reach out to, yes, but I was alone. And, I think I'm glad, because I finally got past that barrier I needed to get past and embrace my new self. And since that day, the demons in my head are almost entirely gone.

I Am My Own Worst Enemy
For the longest time in my life, I thought that I needed to be wanted. What I actually wanted was to be needed. Now, neither are true. Loneliness was my greatest fear and yet I lived in that feeling. I've been lonely for a very, very long time. I would go out of my way to do things that would bring me attention. Not all of them were good things. My behavior was self-destructive. And worst, it fostered a co-dependence that was destroying who I was.

I've never learned what it's like to be alone. You can alone and be just fine. I'm not fully there, but I'm in that general area. Trust me when I say, lately has been very hard to not feel alone. I live with two very wonderful people, but they have lives. They get sick. They go to work. They can't be there for me all the time when I need it. The same is true with all of my friends. There are times when it is just me and only me. And I need to be happy with that level of company. And, yes, I am now able to be happy with that company.

There is a limit though, to being alone. And finding this limit is part of my next barrier for my other part of myself, the one I cannot seem to move past, is my sin, Pride. I've started to move past my pride, but this is not an easy task. I've got a very long road ahead of me too. Pride has not only been getting me into trouble, but it has also been doing myself mental, and in some cases, physical harm. The issue is that having gone from a state of pure co-dependence to a state of independence, I cannot find the boundary. And so my pride has been that filter. I live in a house where it is okay to be angry and expression emotions. Yet, I stifle it. There are matters that have come up and have hurt me, or are hurting me, that I have not raised. And I cannot tell clearly if it is the demons I'm fighting, my pride, or if I'm just being independent. I don't want to be angsty. I want to be strong!

Pride is a tricky little bugger to work on. I know that I have to work on acknowledging and identifying my needs so that I can work on expressing them. And, as I'll discuss later, I've come a long way on that front. But, I still need to work on certain aspects. I need physical contact. It is an emotional need that makes me feel alive. It makes me feel wanted. It gives me strength. I was at a group recently and after it ended, everyone was doing their goodbyes and hugging. Me, I shrank away and pulled back. It was all because of my pride in trying to be strong on my own. And worse than that, I've been told that in my very home, is someone who gives the best hugs in the world. I have not asked him for one. Nor have I had ANY physical contact with him since day 1. And yet, I truly love him. And yes, he will likely read this and even knowing that, I cannot bring myself to ask him to hug me.

So yes, I have overcome much, and I still have much more to overcome. And yet, looking at what I have to overcome, I can see that the enemy I'm facing, myself, is not as fearsome as it once was. I have learned to face my loneliness, so tackling my pride can't be too difficult. And, as you'll see, this is the road ahead.

Wants and Needs
Shortly after I came here, I was told that I should focus on what I want and need. It took me a long time to get started on that. Wants are dangerous. There are things I want, that I will never have. There are things I want that I will likely never have. And there are things that I think I want, but probably really don't. Needs are simpler, but can often be confused for wants.

About three weeks into my move, I had noticed on my roommate's computer a sticky note with ten things to remind himself. He didn't hide it, it was on his desktop. I knew that I needed something along those lines for myself. I expanded upon the idea and have a list of core wants, a list of material wants, and recently added in a list of things I want to do.

The material wants range from silly things, to certain types of clothing, to specific things I've stumbled upon and can't afford to get yet. The range from super expensive (a $3000 professional mermaid tail) to an inexpensive craft project (a glowing jar lamp). This helps me keep focused on my financial directions with the little money I have for myself. If I have the things I want written down, when I have money to spare, I can apply it the things I truly want. To support myself, I've also started a project for creating a focus board. This board sections off for space on my current writing project (this is part of my core wants), one active crafting project, the current saving goal, and one miscellaneous project at a time. Visually, I can identify my goals and keep myself focused on them.

My core wants are a bit more personal and a bit more abstract. They outline things I want out of life. #1 is “to be me”. Others reflect upon the pride discussion above where #5 identifies, “The ability to experience all emotions, good or bad, and not be ashamed of them.” The core wants sort of serve as a daily affirmation. I read them from time to time and remind myself why I'm doing this. It is helping, much like when you say a goal out loud.

The latest addition of “Things I Want to Do” are basically things that I'm planning on doing or want to figure out how to do, but are extensive. Not quite a resolution, but not a material want either. The top of this list should come as no surprise to people who know me. I want to go to Finland. The list is relatively short so far, as I just started it.

I should note that this list is not private. However, I'm not going to sit and advertise it online.

A Bit About Who I Am Today
So here I am, giving the entire internet a status update about myself. Maybe this will be read by one person. Maybe by none. Maybe it will get a million hits. In all of this talk, I've talked about finding myself and identifying who I am. Merging a bit of Core Want #4 and Core Want #6, I'm going to talk a little bit about how I am. Not everything, because damn, a guy needs SOME privacy.

I'm a thirty-three year old bigender male that lives in Kentucky. I work a crappy seasonal job to keep my health up and to give me something to blow of steam while I heal. I have two wonderful families. One lives in Maine and the other in Kentucky. I have two best friends that have an entire core rule dedicated to them, even if it is unrequited at this time. I'm intentionally cryptic, to which someone will surely tell me is not cryptic, just me being obtuse. I love to write. I love fairies and fairy tales. I'm into the EGL style of clothing to a level that would scare you if you had any idea what I was talking about. And, if I could turn into a mermaid at will, I'd be in heaven.

My current writing project is Dissolution. My current craft project is making the vision board thingy. My current savings project is split 50/50 between getting an SR9 and a gaming computer. My miscellaneous project is a secondary writing project I keep slipping back into working on.

I've said a lot, much of it has been unclear. I've spent all night mentally composing this and an hour-and-a-half writing it up. I'm not going to proof read this until after I've slept. This and the previous line will disappear once I've edited it. The point to all of this, I've reached a stepping stone in my life. My past self is starting to look grey and fuzzy. My future self is looking more clear on the horizon.

If you read this, I love you. If you read it all, I thank you. Comments are not only welcome, but greatly encouraged. I need a hug (and maybe even a kiss). Good night.

And most importantly:
I look forward to starting the next leg of my journey.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 King of the Hill: November Part 1

Remember Remember the 12th of November
Last night, my roommate and I sat down for a mini-marathon of Back to the Future movies.  Monday is one of the better nights on television for shows, so we were not able to get through all three movies.  We did at least manage to sit through the first two films.  This movie trilogy have always been a favorite of mine and it's time to a good old fashioned review of these two classic 80's films and determine the current King of the Hill winner for November.

For those who do not know, the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge is my system for determining the best movie of year that I saw. One movie from each month will be selected and, at the end of the year, I will do a tournament style showdown where they will take each other on until the final movie has been selected. Bracket placement will be determined by the number of movies the monthly movie faced and won.

Back to the Future v Back to the Future II
I would love nothing more than to consider the three Back to the Future films one giant movie and end it at that.  While the second movie does end on a cliff hanger, they definitely are each their own movie and need to be treated this way.

Back to the Future was the movie that started it all.  Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) and Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) are close friends with a former relationship to each other that is not established on camera.  Doc Brown, after thirty years of work, has invented a time machine in the body of a Delorean.  While fueled, the Delorean needs to only hit 88 miles per hour before it sends the occupant in time to the designated location.

In the first movie, Marty accidentally goes back in time to the day Doc Brown comes up with his invention.  Stranded, he has to enlist the help of Doc Brown from the past timeline to return home.  The mission is relatively simple, Marty needs to drive the DeLorean into a wire at the second it is hit by lightning so that the power can be used to travel back to the future.  However, the timeline is messed up when Marty accidentally prevents his parents from falling in love.  Before he can return home, he needs to fix the timeline.

In the sequel, Marty and Doc Brown go to the future to prevent Marty's son from getting sentenced to jail which starts a ripple effect of horrific purposes.  While in the future, Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) travels back in time to 1955 to give his younger self a sports almanac.  This almanac allows Biff to win countless fortunes by gambling in sports.  In this new dystopian future, only Doc Brown and Marty McFly remember life before Biff became a wealthy megalomaniac.  They travel back in time to 1955 to prevent Biff from using the sports almanac.

While both movies are great in their own right, there is no doubt that the first Back to the Future wins out as the better film.  The first film is filled with all kinds of small Easter eggs.  If you know where to look, you can find small timeline changes that even long-time fans of the film might have missed.  For example, I'm not sure I ever noticed before that Twin Pines Mall becomes Lone Pine Mall after Marty destroys one of the pine trees.  Back to the Future is also a treasure trove for discussions with friends.

There is also one, very damaging continuity error in the second film.  According to the very words of Doc Brown, Biff Tannen of the future should not have been able to return to the same future that Doc Brown and Marty were in.  That timeline ceased to exist the second Biff brought back the sports almanac.  So, while the second movie did make me want a hover board and a flying car, it doesn't have the epic nature of the first film.

Winner:  Back to the Future

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 King of the Hill: Spooky October

The Mostly Spooky Entry
October is the month when all of the horror stories arrive in movie theaters.  To sort of fit the theme, I've been dedicated this month to catch up on some horror stories.  I've managed to make my way through three-and-a-half so far.  Of course, just because I'm dedicated to horror films and the like, doesn't mean that I'm going to exclude other genres from the month.  Hopefully that will help explain the oddball in today's review.

For those who do not know, the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge is my system for determining the best movie of year that I saw. One movie from each month will be selected and, at the end of the year, I will do a tournament style showdown where they will take each other on until the final movie has been selected. Bracket placement will be determined by the number of movies the monthly movie faced and won.

The Girl Next Door (2007) v Paranormal Activity
Holy fuck!  This movie is one of the most messed up things I have ever seen.  The story is centered on the neighbor of a older woman with a family of boys.  Two young girls move into the neighbor's home as their aunt is the only living relative.  David Moran (Daniel Manache) takes a liking to the girl, but quickly discovers that her life is not going well.  The movie is a human torture porn fest as the girl is put through some of the most disturbing acts of human cruelty possible.  When this movie had finally ended, I was left feeling hating all humanity.

First off, I'm not spoiling this for people.  If you've seen it, you'll recognize that there are a few "mistakes" in my review.  It's the easiest way to review the movie without spoiling it.  Paranormal Activity is a found camera footage film about a strange entity that haunts the home.  Found Footage is a movie recording method that is very, very difficult to pull off.  You have to be able to tell a story with either limiting it to logical reasons to have a camera present, or find ways to safely work the camera to critical scenes without destroying the viewer's disbelief.  For me, Paranormal Activity didn't do the best job with this.  The fact that the husband in the movie is a douchebag makes it easier to explain why he would take cameras with him while fighting with his wife.  However, this was not sufficient enough for every scene in the film.  One of the biggest credits I can give the movie is tension.  The movie starts slowly and begins to increase the tension more and more until the very end of the film when all hell is breaking loose.

It's a difficult call, but I'm awarding the victory to Paranormal Activity.  I can forgive the suspension of disbelief.  What I can't do is look past one particular act of torture in The Girl Next Door.  It wasn't horror, it was disturbing.

Winner:  Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity v Paranormal Activity 2
Paranormal Activity 2 takes place parallel to Paranormal Activity in timeline.  The movie departs from Paranormal Activity in several ways.  The tension is not a slow rise like the first film.  You will encounter more supernatural events as the movie progresses.  It is hard to get into this movie and what makes it great without spoiling this or the previous movie.  Suffice it to say, the reasons for the cameras in this film seem more natural.  And while I don't agree with the behaviors of the people in the film at all times (I would have moved out very quickly into the process), the movie is very entertaining.  I found the second film much more satisfying than the first.

Winner:  Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2 v The King and I
The King and I is not a horror film.  It is the only movie this month that I watched that didn't have horrific elements to it.  The King and I is a movie based on the musical of the same name.  It is about the King of Siam, Mongkut, who asks for a British lady to be the governess to help raise his children.  Anna, is the lady that is sent to raise these children.  The King and I is an interesting story that goes into the clash of two very different cultures.  It is filled with lots of vibrant colors, beautiful images, and wonderful music.  I really enjoyed watching the film.

Does Paranormal Activity 2 measure up to The King and I?  Yes and no.  The King and I is a phenomenal movie and it deserves to be seen for what it is.  However, it is not a movie that should be compared to Paranormal Activity 2.  One is a found footage horror flick and the other is a musical about a historical event that may or may not be accurate.  So, on an account of my theme for the month, I'm forced to rule in favor of Paranormal Activity 2.

Paranormal Activity 2 v The House of a 1000 Corpses
The House of a 1000 Corpses is a horror film that I have heard a lot about.  I've been told it is one of the scariest movies ever made.  I've watched it and I didn't find it that scary.  Don't get me wrong, the Rod Zombie film is worthy of the attention of horror fans.  The movie has some pretty fucked up moments and it is a horror film.  It is disturbing.  It is demented.  It wasn't scary to me.  Why?  Because I couldn't connect with any of the characters in the film.  Without my ability to connect to the characters, I couldn't feel the horror they were experiencing.

Winner:  Paranormal Activity 2