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April 12, 2003

Self, Three Years Later

I've looked up boohab in the new Yahoo search engine, as I do whenever I hear about a new search engine. It did a fairly good job of connecting me to boohabs past. In fact, I found my very first blog which I started when Blogger first came out back before there was a blogospheric ecosystem. I can recall my invention of the Sixo personna. It went a little something like this:
ok. this isn't much. i recall the project now. it was to kill boohab and rebecome michael. i am me again. a kind of post-michael b. michael b. the michael b. that was, was 1991 and desparately specific, in the way that people are when they want to have read george eliot just like everyone else, but be able to tell everyone how their life was *uniquely* informed.

i am not desparately specific any longer. i even gave up my pager, and i don't care what my area code is. i split up my website into multiple fragments on multiple servers and i don't even care if they all link together properly. i don't write about non-fiction books any longer. i can't even remember the last one i read. oh yeah, 'money' by andrew hacker.

i am not desparately specific any longer. i don't mind forgetting the details. it's children and money that give me this freedom. when you have to go to the movies for drama, you're more demanding of directors. you're more loving of actors. i have three closely spaced children who manufacture drama. on cue, at 12:45 am, my four year old daughter has arisen from sleep, weeping. she huddles on my lap as i type into the ether. everybody has got a weepy daughter. i'm fine with that. you know what i'm saying. it's not a question. i am not desparately specific any longer.

long ago i wrote a poem about this me. back when i wrote poems that i thought could change things, i scribbled a few lines that went a little something like this:

I'm livin' medium.
Looking for garlic and window cleaner.
Marley's on the box and I wriggle my toes.
I'm not the sheriff.
I got Pampers and tedium.
I got an ATM card and a bush with one rose.

of course back then it was all wishful thinking. it was an excuse not to carry a gun. it was an excuse not to live in tibet. it was an excuse not to save the planet. i guess i was preparing myself for failure. so i started mocking people who take npr too seriously, people with amnesty international stickers pasted conspicuously.

now i need them, because i've changed my convention. i walk amongst those who have visions of capitalist sugarplums. and i do the sugarplum dance whose intricate steps require all the attention i once spent on being excruciatingly specific, aesthetically disciplined, philosphically precise, visibly distinct, and in all things politically progressive, radical or subversive as the situation demanded.

it's a new dance.

i expect to succeed.

i have placed new demands upon myself. predictable ones, you might say, but demanding nonetheless. i carry me round in this different body, humming johann strauss. and now that my daughter is finally sound asleep, i will put her to bed. just like every other 'american'. and i will then log off my computer, finish up that white russian in the fridge and sack out in the den on the futon infront of the tube. just like every other 'american'.

it's the 21c, and i've decided to be like everybody else everywhere else. it took me 38 years to realize that this 'american' thing was desparately specific, small and pathetic.

On the other side of that, I'm not desparately specific. I no longer rant in lower case (much). I have come to admire and respect the American middle-class. I am an order of magnitude more selfless than I was, and I have come to accept humility as a constant companion. I think that I am a marginally better person, a bit more free, and a lot more comfortable in straying from an old self without making every turn into a medal of honor. I have grown accustomed to closing my eyes and leaping. I have grown accustomed to being blindsided and stabbed in the back. I have stared my own failures dead in the eye and walked out the other side standing. Everything is alright, and its OK to be nobody.

Nothing reminds me of this so much as this picture of Hasankeyf. I am taken with the place. In my American bubble, I sympathize in a unique way with the struggle of people who are strong but have been beat down.

Posted by mbowen at April 12, 2003 10:53 PM

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