I was planning on doing this blog post like the rest of them from this month, as a median between storytelling and talking to you all but as I sat down to write it I changed my mind, see I just read back through a few of my previous blog posts from the first two years of GME and I’m feeling reminiscent.
I entered into this world with a wide eyed glassy sensibility and I would easily crumble at the slightest stress that was placed upon me. I grew bitter and frustrated as the years passed and I seemed to only grow increasingly lost and confused. I didn’t know my place, I didn’t know my purpose and I sure as shit didn’t know what would happen next.
I expressed that through my writing and was made fun of a great deal in high school for being a poet. I wrote this one poem when I was a Sophomore about Christianity and the crucifixion and how it related to me. In the poem I spoke about Christ as a friend to me. It didn’t take long for this kid who sat behind me to snag the notebook and read it aloud, asking me how I felt about my “friend Jesus” and I hung my head, ignoring him and the mass laughter that came from the other kids in the class that though poetry was silly.
I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I stopped writing after that.
It wasn’t worth it to me, to share my work in class because it all came from a deeply personal place and I was horrified of the possibility that I would be chastised or made fun of because of it. Another time, when I was much younger, I was tasked with writing an essay about “your perfect teacher” in fourth grade. While the majority of my class simply wrote that our fourth grade teacher was their idea of the perfect teacher, I took it an alternate route. I remember vividly because of the embarrassment it caused. I described this perfect teacher physically, noting down scars and figure, and left much of the personality aspect out of the piece. The kids didn’t necessarily laugh at me that time. Most of them were so weirded out by it that they didn’t speak to me for years.
I get it, I was a weird kid. I didn’t understand the question and I had a crush on our student teacher.
The following year, because I was so horrified of my own writing and I think because of my own imagination, when the class was offered a choice in assignment I spoke out against it. We were offered to write a 5 page essay on a political topic we had been studying in the quarter, or create a presentation for it. I stood up with my friends and looked at Travis, who I told aloud that “There is no way I would write the essay.” My teacher plucked me from the group and told me that I no longer had a choice. I was going to write the essay or take a failing grade. A while later in that class after the essay had been finished and I turned it in with a sheepish look about me, we were tasked to create a story. Travis wrote this enlightening piece about animals who were injected with this molecule that made them hyper destructive fighting machines, like ninja turtles except way more badass. I liked the idea, so I took it and ran in a different direction. (I say that, but I plagiarized the shit out of him.) I had written and illustrated this story in all of the graphic detail it contained. This snake man who was the cause of all of the problems faced off against the heroes, a wolf, a tiger and a lion on a mountaintop laboratory. Seeing that they could not end the dispute peacefully, they coiled the snake upon the spire and impaled him as his blood drained down the summit of the mountain. I showed this to my parents and they told me immediately that I “couldn’t show that to anyone.” I was confused. I had been brought up all my life to be creative and to explore the parts of my mind so many people keep hidden. I had been taught by my mother every day to write and work and create something that no one else has before and then when I did (well, I didn’t, not really, not the point.) they told me to change the ending. It was my first and last experience to date with a true editor. I remember taking the last panel of the book up to my bedroom and tearing it to tiny pieces after I had spent so much time creating it. I didn’t want to feel that way again. I hated destroying my work, but my parents were right. I couldn’t show that to someone. They would think I’m crazy. If destroying my work was like death, the laughter of my classmates and the insults I would hear afterwards would have been eternal damnation. I would never feel that way, I couldn’t bear to.
Then I entered high school. I wrote and sketched every day. I began to blossom into a creative machine who could not be stopped. Until I wrote that poem my sophomore year and I once again felt that laughter that burned my heart. I couldn’t bear the insults and the jokes made at my expense so I stopped writing for a long time. I turned to music because it was the “cooler” creative hobby. Of course, what no one tells you is that it’s only “cooler” if you’re making money or are attractive while doing it. I was neither of those things. Playing guitar only gave me relief in that I was good at it and I used it as a tool to overcome stress from my day to day life. I had finally found a place to fit in. I was playing guitar and working with two of my best friends every day sharpening my abilities and I even joined choir. Music really did save me, but before I get into that chain of events, I had to feel the blistering pain of failing at that too once before I could understand what I was really on this earth for. It was my junior or senior year and I had been practicing for a New Year’s Eve talent show at my church, I was going to play “Dear God” by Avenged Sevenfold for these people who loved me and supported me for years. Hours every day I had spent practicing and before I knew it the night had arrived. My parents and I showed up to the church and I sat down to tinker with my guitar before the show started. I was feeling confident and capable, nothing could stop me. Then, as you have probably guessed by now, something shook me to my nerves. There was this kid that I went to high school with who absolutely hated me. I had no idea why, I still don’t. He was the kind of kid who was cool in high school because he didn’t care about anything, not really. He skirted classes and dates and treated his girlfriends like shit, you know the type of guy I’m talking about. I saw him come in and suddenly my nerves broke. I began sweating and shaking and on the verge of tears I stumbled up to the front of the church at the provocation of my parents and a family friend. I sat down to play the song and made it through the first verse well enough, but I couldn’t get my fingers to land where they needed to land. I couldn’t get my mouth to make the right noises and my lungs couldn’t hit the notes like they needed to. I let my fear get the better of me and stumbled through the rest of the song like an idiot, rather than giving up in the middle of the performance and stepping down I was determined to keep going so I took a break and started again, finishing out a 6 minute song in 9 minutes and doing it more poorly than when I had first begun to learn the song.
I left the New Years Celebration shortly after he stepped up to play a song and wooed the crowd. His voice was beautiful, even if he was rotten to me I can’t deny him that. He was a fantastic guitarist, still is as a matter of fact, I see him every once and a while playing a show at the Rodeo or in one of the bars.
I couldn’t bear the laughter and the stifled laughter that I had heard like viscious echoes all through my life every time I put myself out there and then immediately failed. I have grown paranoid of it. I still have nightmares to this day, that I will release a book and the kid in my Sophomore English class will rip it out of my hands and ask if I really think Chaim is real. Or I will be at a book meeting and the kid from the NYE Talent show will step out and begin playing guitar while lying naked across my signing table so everyone stops paying attention to me. I’m horrified that these things will still happen but this sad and embarrassing truth comes hand in hand to you with another;
Just like high school doesn’t last forever, neither will your uncertainty.
I have put out so much content over the last four years that I barely know what to do with myself. I have over 400 blog posts in total that I have been writing since 2013. That’s nuts, isn’t it? I have (as of now) five published books, with a sixth coming out later this year. I work every day to better myself and make something more important and more powerful because I learned a long time ago in the middle of the night, as I listened to the echoes of the other children laughing at me…
I was a child too. Each child is given a purpose. More often than not we must fight to carve that purpose out for ourselves and we cannot give up. I have done my best carving during those late nights, wondering why people don’t understand my mind and feeling like I am viewing a party from the outside. “I think so differently” I would tell myself. “Why can’t I be more like them?” On the nights when the laughter was increasingly hard to hear, I would put my headphones on and write something for them. Something I will never show another living being as long as I live and something that will hopefully be lost before I pass away. I would turn the music up when I was done and I would cry myself to sleep. I withdrew into a shell and wouldn’t let anyone have that kind of power again. I wouldn’t let anyone destroy me with their jokes about my art or my music or my writing. I couldn’t stand it. In the throes of those endlessly painful and harrowing nights I was given two things, one that I had to claw away from the deepest parts of me, wrapped in bad memories and calcified tears, it was that I had always been different. I had been created to be different. I see things in a way that not many others do. I take things from a new perspective, like so many artists before me, but I use words as the catalyst for change and dissection. I found this through the muddy water inside of me as I ran each night from the voices of the other children laughing at me. I learned quickly that the fastest way to tune them our was with music, mind or otherwise, so I would strap headphones to my skull and turn the music up as loud as possible as the voices tried to distract me. After years of doing this, I found that I have developed a minor case of tinnitus.
It’s okay, however. The ringing in my ears only serves one purpose. It is quiet still, but just loud enough to drown out the voices of the children still echoing around in my skull. When I go to submit a manuscript or propose an idea to my friends and family, I am blessed by the eternal ringing within my ears. Because it keeps the laughter at bay so I can remember…
I have a purpose, and it is this.
I will never give in to the laughter. I am not a child, and even when I was they never controlled me.
The laughing children don’t control you either, so keep writing, keep fighting and pushing and painting your future. Embrace your differences and rejoice within them. We are all designed with our strengths and weaknesses, don’t let them take yours away.
Thank you for reading, remember that life is not meant to be awful.