Wednesday, April 28, 2010

These colours don't run (too unfit)

What I wanted to do this evening was visit a couple of nearby craft stores in search of supplies to pimp out my facial garments tomorrow evening. But what I needed to do, it seems, was take a 3 hour nap instead.

Most everyone has warned, from doctor to people with similar surgical histories, that an emotional crash comes in the first couple of weeks after surgery. I've been cautiously hopeful of avoiding this, due to the previously mentioned snowflake-like individuality of my motivations.

But last night, during that long 3am shower by means of which I attempt to steam the blood clots out of my sinuses, I had my first hint of what it might feel like, should it happen, and why.

I have, so far, stayed perched firmly at my Tortuga community residence since arriving back from Chicago (all of four days ago). I've moved between bedroom, living room, and kitchen; using my waking hours largely for work (with the mandatory evening nap separating my work day into two unequal halves) and board games.

Housemate Shannon, who knows me well, and recent housemate Divia (and her oft-present boyfriend), who barely know me at all, have been excellent company, and not changed their behaviour towards me in the slightest. Tony, one of my closer friends from work, has visited and likewise behaved identically to the norm.

Sparse as that evidence is, it supports what one more or less expects to happen - close friends have a high disturbance threshhold for changes, since they know you well and are largely indifferent to superficialities; and relative strangers likewise, since they have few expectations (unless said changes happen to tickle their prejudices).

The question is what happens with the people who occupy the middle-ground, those with whom you are close enough to instinctively feel a mutual social obligation of consistency and predictability? I think that in my case that's a large set of people - perhaps the majority of those with whom I interact regularly. I wonder if the ratios are different for natural extroverts?

As I write, it strikes me that perhaps the underlying reason for the ways in which I've chosen to present myself throughout my adult life has been a conscious attempt to disrupt that natural contract; not so much to affect the natural expectations and assumptions in other people's minds, but to prevent myself from feeling the obligation to meet what I imagine these expectations might be, which I find, for whatever reason, so burdensome.

It took me most of my life to learn how to maintain this effect without automatically alienating a large proportion of people I meet in the process, and it's something that I feel inordinately proud of having finally achieved.

But now - and by golly, do I ever take my time circling back to the original point - I think I'm running the risk of backsliding.

Tortuga consists of a dozen or two people, and although I feel that I, as a part-time resident, am in this community, I am not really of it, and therefore the closest of the non-housemate Tortugans fall into that dangerous median social stratum.

And so, the small subset of them that I've run into in these past 96 hours I've felt a very strange reaction to - nervous, cowed, and entirely not in control in a way that eerily recapitulates the automatically-alienating-stage of my social development - awkward greetings have been exchanged, and I've self-consciously deflected further contact beyond the necessary.

It's weird. I like these people. But I suddenly feel that old social nervousness and anxiety again. I could defend it as being diminished energy levels due to healing - I'm not kidding about the mandatory nap - or recovery from the general psychological trauma of the surgery. But I remember this feeling.

A dose of irony: a lot of this is about clothes. When you get right down to it, clothing is an underlying motivator for many things in my life. Yes, this makes me roll my eyes too. But in the words of a great philosopher, I yam what I yam. I think the key contributor to my newfound sense of self-awkwardness is not the surgery at all - I delight in talking about it; and I'll be putting a presentation together for 5 Minutes of Fame just as soon as I get updated MRIs and x-rays to show side-by-side with the old ones (although, uh, this time I might make it a fixed-length video that I narrate instead of blowing straight through the limit and way the hell out the other side (also, I wish Blogger had footnote support; all these parenthetical thoughts are causing crushing damage to my narrative flow)).

No, the key to the old weird is that this white facial garment that I must wear continually is just so butt-ugly. You'd think it would be the pink robe, wouldn't you, but no. (Okay, that's not irony; the irony comes later; this was just the lead in. Watch for it.)

That's part of the reason for why I'm so keen to get out to Noisebridge's regular craft night tomorrow to pimp it up (out? What is the reference axis of pimping, anyway?). But my sinus-clearing-morning-shower qualm came from the realization that, according to the plan at the time, I'd be spending the day in San Francisco, the first place I've ever lived that lets me glimpse the emotional weight behind the real concept of "home", bearing this visage that makes me quail, and I'd be running the risk of falling back into those old destructive habits of looking for judgement in people's eyes.

Back to the irony: yesterday evening, before that shower of revelation, Tony dropped off my deliveries from work, including a pair of facial garments in black (combined item cost: $30; overnight shipping cost: $30; that's how much I care). And they look totally badass in comparison to the white ones. Not that I'm not going to pimp them out with a foot-high rainbow mohawk and silver esoteric sigils tomorrow night, you understand, but I think they just about solve my entire self-consciousness problem all on their own.

So why did I have this moment of doubt overnight? Because I didn't actually don one of the new ones until this morning... which also instantly gave me the courage to videoconference into a work meeting for the first time without obscuring the camera.

Having identified the problem, I now fully intend to complete kicking its ass. But first, I have my day's work to finish.


  1. Goddamn, Mikolaj, why are you so awesome? I trust once you pimp this thing up/out you will be sharing the glory with the world? Say yes.

  2. It shall be done, of course :) I may feel up to raids on local craft stores this weekend, though unless the parts self-assemble, the actual work may not get too far until I have some quality time with crafty humans like you!