Monday, September 22, 2014

Biographical Body

As I hit my 40s, I really began to become comfortable with not just my personality, but my body, my history, my entire identity. I'm actually a pretty fascinating person and I really do like myself. In celebration of my 44th birthday a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take three pictures of myself (with Jen's help). Specifically, I wanted to show aspects of my body that tell a tiny story about me. Things people look at and see every day on my body but don't know the story they are looking at. It's my biographical body.

This picture is titled 199619751990 because the three images above relate to those three years, 1996, 1975 and 1990, respectively. Along with this photo, I thought I'd write the very short version of each story.

1996: Although the inspiration for this tattoo behind my left ear came from the Brujah clan of vampires in the White Wolf game, Vampire: The Masquerade, I didn't get it to signify them. Nor did I mean it to advertise that I followed any kind of stereotypical anarchist political agenda. Instead, I liked the symbol as a personal statement of liberation and individuality. I was smart enough at the time to realize I might not have a mohawk style haircut forever. I could cover the ink by simply growing my hair out. But I remember saying that even if I changed my thinking over the years, I wanted 25 year old me to occassionally tap future me on the shoulder and say, 'Hey, don't forget this ink up here. Whatever you're doing in life, do it your own way for your own reasons.' Thanks past self. Good job.

1975: That line down my left eye isn't a laugh line or a really big crows foot. It's a scar. One I got in in 1975. I wasn't supposed to be standing on our dining room chairs. I was  four, going on five and I was just excited to sit at the big table with the adults. I slipped though and I hit my face on the edge of the adjacent chair. Blood went everywhere. It was possible I was blind in that eye. My mother scooped me up and ran me to the hospital. I was screaming and crying and the more the doctors tried to hold me down to suture me up the more I flailed. I wanted nothing to do with that needle near my eyeball. But inspiration struck my mother. She knew that I was a fan of the then hugely popular show The Six Million Dollar Man. She said, "Son, hold still. They're going to give you a bionic eye. Just like Steve Austin." That was all it took. I held still and took those stitches like a champ. For weeks after, I would close my right eye, convinced I could see much farther with my new left one.

1990: I was an unhappy kid in the military and my saving grace was my friend Eric. He and I and my friends Scot, Dave and Bryan often drove into L.A. to hit various clubs. We were cash poor, dorky and totally not cool. But what we lacked in style, we made up for in enthusiasm. One night at the Kontrol Factory, the song Burning Inside by Ministry came on. I ran to the dance floor for an impromptu mosh pit with my friend Bryan. He didn't see me barreling toward him at full speed and Bryan is not a small man. He just happened to swing an elbow up as I came flying at him, literally airborne. His elbow caught me right in the mouth. My canine tooth chipped, my lip split, blood went everywhere. In the bathroom, people were horrified as I washed my mouth out in the giant circular communal sink and the water turned red. I can still feel that ding in my canine and it always reminds me of Bryan and Ministry.

My body is full of stories.

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