Thursday, October 30, 2008

REPRINT: My Last Boyfriend

On 22 February, 2002, I met the man of my dreams. Alas, he did not.

We had six pretty good months, most of which is printed indelibly on my soul, and then he decided he wanted something different and that was that. Without bothering to check to see if maybe I wanted some of those things too, he split up with me over the phone on New Year's Eve 2002.

I tried to stay friends with him immediately after we broke up. Friends said this was insane, but I just wanted to be with him. I didn't care how much it hurt. This, I suppose, was the most insane part.

He knew this, and he added to the hurt. He started telling me about all the guys he was having sex with, and I even went with him when he got a dose of gonorrhea and didn't want to go to the Free Clinic alone. He did the usual thing I get: cried on my shoulder over how there are no good men out there, knowing full well I was the best guy he'd ever been with.

First he didn't want to be with me, then he treated me badly, then he tried to deny me closure. Why, you ask, would I want to be with such a person? I guess because I knew the real him, and I felt that whatever it was that made him want to hurt me wasn't the real him. Maybe he was trying to drive me away so I could get over him; I can only guess, because he wasn't an efficient communicator.

The last time I saw him I got my closure; I got him so stoned he couldn't move and I gave him what for. I told him all the things he'd denied me the opportunity to say in the breakup talk; I mean, it's only good manners, when you dump someone, to take like a man whatever abuse they might want to give you for doing so. Since he didn't do so willingly, he forced me to force the issue.

That was over six months ago and I have a feeling it was the last time I'll ever see him. In a way it's a relief, since it means he'll stop hurting me. I can still remember the good times we had and be grateful that I didn't have to finish the romantic portion of my life on the boyfriend before that, who was a horror beyond horrors. But it's clear that, having been alone for nearly five years in the prime of my life, that part of my life is definitely over.

Things would have been different if I'd had another boyfriend in that time, or even a date that didn't end in my being insulted or stood up. After all, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. Instead, I try to make do with a Frankenstein monster: I take a little bit from porn, and a little bit from my friends, and a little bit from my cat and as long as I'm careful not to mix them up (!) I can nearly simulate a reasonable facsimile of a life.

Given this kick I've been on lately, maybe I'll come to a moment of perfect clarity about the whole situation and finally start to get over him. Still, it takes more than perspective to change other people's opinions of you, if, in fact, such a thing is possible.

In the meantime I have my blog to divulge my pain to, and I get some insights here from both friends and total strangers, and little by little it feels like the light is returning to my life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson

Recently, one of my Facebook friends enquired how I was; without hesitation I typed "Even when things are bad they're always better than they could be." I was then accused of depth which, if word got out, could seriously damage my reputation. I suppose if the only thing bothering me is my appearance, or my relative level of comfort, it's time I had an attitude re-adjustment and gained a little perspective.

Anyway, whatever I may or may not think about Michael Jackson, I've always like this song of his - Man in the Mirror, from all the way back in 1988; having just re-read my own vintage self-loathing (the previous two posts) I think the message of this song is entirely apropo - and not just for me, either. Eh, Jacko?

REPRINT: The Self-Portrait Saga: An Update

I figured since I was reprinting one, I ought to reprint this one as well, since they are linked; originally appearing on March 23rd, 2007, it was all inspired by my search for a new profile photo then, and its reprint has been inspired by the need to find a new profile photo to represent me here and there all over the Internet now, since the one in current use is now more than a year old. Still, the current photo is awfully good, and has drawn me nothing but praise from every quarter; it spooks me, the idea that I have to make the next one even better, despite the fact that I'm now a year older and a year fatter besides. ~ MSM

The saga, it seems, has become a quest. It has also, like my face, developed a few interesting wrinkles over time.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI was sitting and staring at the latest batch of self-portraits this afternoon, wondering how the face I see in the mirror could be so different from the one that's in the photos. My regular readers will be pleased to know that I'm done with hating myself over it, but I do need to bring the issue to some kind of resolution so I don't become a total recluse. I can only hope that when I go out, it's the mirror face I use, and not the photo face. I can at least live with that, if that's the case.

Part of the problem is that I see so much of my father in me, especially around the nose. The fact that he broke my nose so often may have something to do with that. In all of the pictures I've taken so far, it's the nose that's given me the most grief. Despite a very painful rhinoplasty in 1995 my nose is still crooked, asymmetrical, and lumpy (though at least I can breathe through it now). These are problems any photographer ought to be able to get around, but when you're taking a picture of yourself it can be a little tricky. This could be why after 300 photos I still don't have one even close to suitable (although the one you see here comes the closest yet).

The shape of my mouth has always troubled me, yet whenever I point out to people that it's lopsided (especially when I smile) it seems no one's ever noticed. This is likely because a) I seldom look directly at anyone, and b) I rarely smile. Even more than my enormous pumpkin head and the inappropriately hairy lump it sits atop, my crooked mouth has tormented me from almost every picture I've ever taken, from as far back as Grade One.

Aside from that, it's difficult for me not to look jowly; this is a family trait, among the men at least. I've never liked the cleft in my chin, and the last time it saw the light of day without stubble on it was nearly a decade ago. Plus, with all the weight I've lost, there's a slackness to my jawline and pronounced naso-labial folds (those lines from the nose to the mouth) which thankfully are now less pronounced than they once were. Just so you don't think I'm totally down on myself, I've always rather liked my ears.

I've been videotaping myself as part of an ongoing preparation for video podcasting (set to debut at the end of June this year, to coincide with my 1000th post). One thing I've noticed as a result of that is that I tuck my chin in when I talk, probably due to my utter lack of confidence in my looks; which is utterly counter-productive, because it makes me look worse. Just like when I act like a jerk because I think no one likes me. When it comes to self-fulfilling prophecies, I am a self-fulfilling prophet. Tucking in my chin also tends to emphasise the lopsidedness of my mouth, raises the pitch of my voice (thus bringing out the gayness in my voice, which is the reason I also mumble), and removes any angularity there is in my jaw. So why do I do it, you might ask. Simply put: because I'm a schmuck.

I've added jaw thrusts to the regimen of facial exercises I currently follow, but it's too early yet to see any improvement. I've also been trying to remember when and why I started doing it. I think because if I don't I tend to resemble Joan Crawford, and not in a butch "Johnny Guitar" way, but in a drag-queeny "Mommy Dearest" way. Also because when I used to talk, and there was no one but my father around, he'd tell me I sounded like a faggot and "accidentally" clock me in the face with his elbow. Ten or twelve of those would make anyone introspective; the fact that I got dozens more like it at school didn't help.

The next sunny day (which should be sometime next month) I'm going to try using a variety of natural light conditions, as indoor lighting can be as harsh as flash, and therefore unflattering. Fortunately, I enjoy the process of self-improvement as much if not more than I enjoy ripping myself to shreds, and so what was once an exercise in masochism has turned into a rather pleasant pastime. Becoming acquainted with my face in this manner I can almost (gasp!) see what others find attractive in me.


REPRINT: The Self-Portrait Saga

Originally published on March 14th, 2007, at the Pop Culture Institute, The Self-Portrait Saga was one of my earliest forays into understanding my own issues with my appearance; while I can safely say that I think no more highly of myself today, I've stopped beating myself up over it. It wasn't easy, but I've come to terms with the fact that my dating life is over, and look forward to filling up those hours with plenty of nourishing writing. ~ MSM

I'll be the first to admit I have some serious issues about my appearance.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe way I look sometimes makes me not want to leave the house, and when I do leave the house it is with downcast eyes and a neutral expression which hardens into meanness the longer it's worn. Yet since my typical at-home facial expression is that of a kicked dog, I can't help but love it, even though I'm the one who's been applying the boot.

Talking about it, I risk exposing myself as hopelessly neurotic, self-loathing, and therefore unlovable. Not talking about it makes it fester and seethe. Clearly, the third option is to get over it. This is another one of those places where art comes in so handy. Because it's not just the topography of my face I'm dealing with here; it's the ageing process, the result of weight loss, medication, and a Vancouver winter. Changes in life and situation show on our faces; more so even than the eyes, it truly is the mirror of the soul, and the soul I see reflected here isn't happy.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen I see a picture of myself I can see echoes of my ancestors, the result of choices made, and the effects of a lifetime of cruelty, too much of which is self-inflicted. I can't help resenting my face for having cost me so much attention, yet I also have unrealistic expectations in that regard which need to be addressed as part of a broader enquiry.

So I guess this isn't over yet...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The REPRINT Project


Between now and the end of the year I'll be moving a lot of old posts over here from the early days of the Pop Culture Institute, but only those which fit the theme of Self-Loathario; the reason is, I need the space over there, and subject-wise they just fit better over here.

So watch this space for these exciting new developments! I'll be posting them under the heading "REPRINT", and where necessary annotating them to give you the sense of how my self-loathing has changed (in some ways it's increased, in other ways decreased) since that fateful day of January 26th, 2006, when I discovered the rewarding world of blogging.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

I suppose I should consider myself lucky that lately I'm only moved to write a new post here every two or three months; in the old days - say, this time last year - I could have put nearly as much content on here as I do on the Pop Culture Institute and still not said enough in enough different ways about how much I hate myself. Hell, I didn't even post here after Pride Day; under normal circumstances, those three hours are by far the most stressful of my entire year. Usually I rush home after the parade and throw myself into a shame spiral so powerful it disrupts international shipping.

This year, of course, things went well at Pride Day; I stayed for the better part of six hours and came home more or less content. If I could have been certain that my request would offend whomever received it into retirement (or some kind of cardiac event) I'd have applied to the Vatican to have Pride Day 2008 designated a miracle.

I attribute this turnaround to my recently adopted policy of giving up. I have simply given up on men; having done that - and more importantly, having done it sincerely - suddenly the single worst thing in my life has simply vaporized. The fear of meeting someone and having to show them my disgusting body has overshadowed my every social interaction since that day in 1990 when I crossed the magic gay threshold back from being underweight (and therefore attractive) to normal weight (and therefore a disgusting troll who has no right to live). With each pound I've added since then I've added the equivalent weight of self-loathing to match, simply to save any gay men I might potentially meet the time and hassle of doing it themselves. Giving up on meeting someone, giving up on feeling worthy of love, giving up on finding that most intimate of relationships has simply liberated me; in fact, it's helped me give up on the delusion that such things are possible for me.

Until this evening, that is. This evening I was doodling around on Facebook, having completed a truly heroic passel of posts on PCI, when up popped that pesky little window, with a chat request from someone new. Since these conversations normally go fairly well (or well enough, anyway - the last one resulted in a marriage proposal from Taiwan, which I managed to deflect without setting off an international incident) I blundered into this one with every good intention; this evening, I wanted to make a new friend. What I didn't realize (until it was too late) was that my new correspondent was from Vancouver.

My first clue that it wasn't going to end well - aside from the fact that he was from Vancouver - should have been in the chat I was receiving back; even allowing for the fact that not everyone has a) the keyboard proficiency of Billy Joel and b) the ability to spell even one syllable words correctly, Thomas* was trouble from the start. I can only assume he was drunk off his ass, which is the only reason I can think of why a person whose only language is English couldn't spell words like "that" or "why" or even "or"; homonyms like here/hear and the deadly combination of there/their/they're I can cut someone slack over, especially since their correct meaning is encoded contextually. Honestly, though, if you routinely spell "or" as "ur" then you have a major learning disability and maybe a written medium like the Internet isn't for you. Especially when there's a spell check built right into the program!

My second clue should have been when he kept stating over and over that he "wasn't a bar star" even though a) he lives in the heart of the gay ghetto, and b) he made a point of saying several times how he used to be a model; he also made a point of telling me again and again that he wasn't into playing games. All the while - that's right - playing games. Methinks the pretty boy doth protest too much...

So, he starts pressuring me to make a date with him; I tell him, quite honestly, that he is far too attractive for me, that I'm not interested, that I'm unable to enter the city's gay neighbourhood without being chased, Lord of the Flies-like, by roving gangs of feral twinks (who, in Vancouver at least, are as dangerous as raccoons although nowhere near as smart). Honestly, I could walk the entire length of the longest street in Kabul and be safer than I am on any single block of Davie Street. Still, he keeps pushing me for information - where do I live, when's my day off, what day can we meet; eventually I lay it all out on the line for him, tell him what my expectations for a possible meeting are, set my ground rules... In other words, I was both blunt and honest; that was probably where I made my biggest mistake.

That's also when he starts telling me I'm being presumptuous (a word, by the way, he spells perfectly - he can't spell "or" but he can spell "presumptuous" - which must make him some kind of idiot but no kind of savant) for thinking he was trying to make a date with me. Even though he'd already said "I want to make a date with you". (Actually, what he typed was " ii wan tto makea datte with yoou" - seriously folks, spunk will ruin a keyboard.)

In a flash I unfriended him and blocked him from having any future access to my account. I stopped short of messaging all of our friends in common, though, as that would have only made matters worse; by that point I just wanted him (not to mention our entire interaction) to not just go away but to have never happened in the first place.

So why do I feel so bad? Clearly I have been played by a player; admittedly, a player who told me about eight times that he thought I was hot - an idea which is so laughable that laughing at it would just be rubbing it in. He and I both know that I cannot be hot because I am fat - not straight fat mind you, I'm straight burly, but gay fat, meaning not twenty pounds underweight; the idea that I would ever meet him only crossed my mind because given up on men or not, I'm gagging for cock. I guess I thought I could have him over, get what I wanted from him, and then scare him off once he started to pressure me for more; instead I did the usual thing I do and scared him off first, before I even got to suck him off.

In the future I must keep telling myself: a hot guy who says he likes you is only going to come over, slip you a roofie, and boost all your swag; I mean, after all, if I can get all the way to the age of 38 without having spoken in person to more than a dozen really hot gay guys in my life, what are the chances more hotties (rather than less) are going to want to talk to me now that I've turned my gruesome twosome of fat and ugly into the troll trifecta of old, fat, and ugly?

*Not his real name, natch!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Few Words About Failure

Once again I have been rendered a failure... Or should I even say "once again"? Since life to me feels like one long failure, rather than a series of short ones, perhaps I should have begun this post with the phrase " I am still a failure". See, I can't even be a success at denigrating myself, and it's the only thing I'm really good at.

I've just closed up shop at the Pop Culture Institute, which failed spectacularly on almost every front: it failed to get comments, it failed to attract readers, it failed to generate dialogue, it even failed to maintain momentum (mainly due to the other three failures). Self-Loathario, with significantly fewer posts, is, by comparison, a roaring success; such a success, in fact, that I have often been jealous of it on behalf of the other one. I dare any therapist to disentangle that mess!

So now, with several spare hours a day on my hands that I once upon a time used to lavish on the Pop Culture Institute, it's like I have an enormous gap in my schedule; in fact, given the amount of time I used to spend on writing and researching over there, one could say that I have my entire schedule back, and nothing to do in it.

The first priority, clearly, is returning my life to some semblance of normality: cleaning my apartment, exercising, and spending time with my friends are near the top of the To-Do List. Since I currently find myself at an impasse with regards to my work, I'm clearly going to have to do whatever has to be done to keep money coming in, whether that involves fighting for work with my current employer or looking for work elsewhere. To that end, the routine I've known for the past nine months is about to get a serious shake-up, which is bound to make for an interesting summer, at least.

Plus, I have to do all this while at the front of my mind there will be lurking the constant reminder that I am a failure. This shouldn't prove any kind of a hindrance, because I'm used to it by now; if you stood outside my apartment window with a bullhorn and shouted "You're a failure!" up at me every five seconds for the rest of my life I'd still have you beat. Self-loathing, in my case, is a kind of white noise in my brain.

I think for the time being I'll stick close to the one thing (other than self-loathing) I know I'm good at: taking pictures. Even though when it comes to marketing and selling those pictures I'm a colossal failure, since I have no degree and therefore no chance to show in a gallery or be represented by a stock agency, I know that in the taking of them at least I'm Ansel Adams and Richard Avedon combined. In fact, I may even start a photo blog; at the very least, it'll give me something else to fail at, and in that respect, I'll be shouting "I am failure, hear me roar" in no time at all.