This Creative Life

Welcome to the creative work of Alan White, head writer and producer of "FEEDBACK; A HERO'S CALLING," now at Broken Sea. The "Feedback" in question is Matthew Atherton, My Hero. He and other heroes of mine have links found down the left side of these pages. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mutants Among Us

This picture is actually painted on a flat surface at the bottom of the steps. (The man is real). If you look closely, you will see the seams between the pavement squares.

This man pastels these
so that from only one angle (where the camera is), you get a 3-D image.

How does he do it?

He's a mutant.

That's how.

There He Goes ...

...Operation Feedback was a success. I sent him off this morning and then I made it to work at 9:00AM on the dot.

Success = I did get another chance to hang out with him and his wife at a trendy little dessertery on the Eastside, and that confirmed what I had previously hoped and stated. He had extended the invite as a friend. The hang-out was in our civilian clothes :-), and we all talked about everyday life stuff, disappointments, Broadway plays, future plans, etc.

From here on out, I'll have to begin treating my coverage of him with the kind of discrepency that I use for my other friend/heroes. An example being the fact that you guys don't know the real name of My Friend The Doctor or My Mentor, or My Childhood Bud's sister, who is my Oldest Friend. This is, of course, because I'm the blogging guy here; whatever I decide to put on blast about myself is volitional. But if I put something on blast about them, it's a betrayal of trust. And trust is one thing that I value. There is no relationship without it.

But I do thank you all for riding with me on this crazy-to-normal journey. Rest assured, My Hero is a decent, slightly above-average, flawed, wonderful friend.

And that is so totally all right, then.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Naked Turtle, Pt. II

The other thing that happens to the person who comes out of his shell is that he becomes vulnerable. More easily hurt.

Defense mechanisms are created for a reason. At the moment, I'm experiencing the reason why mine were created. I'm lonely.

In my shell, I could write novels, play City of Heroes, read comicbooks, live other lives, pretend myself elsewhere. When my brain was engaged, I didn't care what was going on around me. Or what wasn't going on around me. Now I care. Now I miss the company of my friends. I miss not hearing their voices. It hurts to be away from them.

I'm supposed to have an Other. Matt has one. My Friend The Doctor has one. My Childhood Bud has one. They can intersect into my life and enjoy me, but then they turn back to their own lives and enjoy/fight with/get freaky on their Others. They fulfill their emotional imperatives. And I'm left with what? Regrets.

This might have been why I formed a shell and a nice wall of fears to protect myself. When you grow up the only child of a single working parent who didn't show you affection (unless you count anger and sarcasm as affection), you couldn't afford to get "lonely". Not if you were going to grow up with a shred of sanity.

Heh. Joke's on me, as it turned out.

I spoke to Childhood Bud for about an hour tonight. It felt nice. Now I've blogged. Now I'm going to go to sleep. But tomorrow I'll wake up again, and it'll start all over again.

I'd better upgrade my calling plan.

Naked Turtle

So what happens when you've pulled a person out of their shell?

Because now I'm out. That fuzzy barrier of fright feels like a memory (concentrating on it hard enough can bring it back to full strength, like any memory). I remember the barrier of safety and I remember that it felt good to be behind it, but now it only seems like isolation. And hella lonely.

I have this ability to be social. I employ it often through Dungeons & Dragons and through my career. I get positive reviews often. Then as a sum of my history, when I got out of the spotlight and back to home, and the pressure was off, I was more content than I was in the spotlight. That, to me, was safety. Now it just seems sad.


1) I HATE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE. I have no idea why I thought that I should never feel this common state of existence. But I was all about protecting me and sparing myself from all of life's awkward-to-full-scale-terrifying moments. And just look where that got me. Alone at 42.

2) I WAS ONLY FOCUSED ON MYSELF. I never thought enough about the people I am being social with. To me, it was my spotlight and my pressure. I had to perform. It was my responsibility for us all to have a good time. Doing all that work made me not want to do all that work.

Well, I'm getting better now. I was social at the last two Starbucks that I stopped by in the last three days (as opposed to WILL-YOU-HURRY-UP-YOU-COW homicidal mode). I smiled at a few strangers. I chatted up a few store clerks.

Because now, I want to know how other people are doing. I want to see if I can give them some kind of happiness. And I learned that from Matthew.

I learned some other significant things from Matthew this weekend as well. I learned what my mind does when I'm in hero-worship mode. I learned what you guys already know. I create perfection where it does not exist. Then I float in a cloud of endorphins until reality comes a'knocking. Then I crash and burn, and retreat into my shell.

But now, there's no more shell.

And this time, the not-perfection is still awesome. You guys already knew Matthew would not be perfect. You knew it when I was going crazy wondering how many things could go wrong with our meeting. But now, getting my reality-check has made it possible for Matthew and I to remain true friends. Now there's no hero-worship cloud in the way. Now it's really real. I've got qualities and insights that will be able to improve his life and he has the same things for me. He's a dear man and I miss him already. And best of all, in accepting Matthew with faults, I've learned to accept myself. Again, true friendship is an equal relationship--not fan to idol, but peer to peer. In order for me to do that, I have to see myself as a good guy too. I have to know that I can give to any relationship that I want to be a part of. Anything else is just parasitic.

Scott, thanks for that boost a bit ago. Why wouldn't anyone want to be friends with me? I am a good guy. I've got stuff to offer.

[grover] And I am cute, too! [/grover]

So that's all right then!!!!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How The Auditions Went ...

...I haven't a clue. I didn't go.

No, I wasn't scared away, oddly.

Just as I wanted, I spent the last two days hanging out with superheroes. I actually worked the booth where autographs were being signed and I took the pictures for the fans. I was by his side when the Sci Fi Channel brought Feedback down to meet up with Stan Lee and the contestants. I heard every word of encouragement that the superheroes gave to them. I met a few other contestants who came to seek out Feedback and get some feedback.

As I witnessed and partook in all this, I realized that I had become the thing which I was hoping for. I became an insider. I'm an actual part of the team and this relationship will never go away. I'm in.

And mind you, I'm not a sidekick. I'm a hero who hasn't worn his costume yet. :-)

So it seems wrong now to wedge myself further into the TV show, because if I were to be chosen, that would be a spot that someone else didn't get. And that someone could be the next Matthew Atherton. And yeah, I could be the next Matthew Atherton, but I feel I already am that. Let someone else get the spotlight, I'm satisfied getting the benefit.

All that being said, today I will wear my costume. The auditions are over in New York, but a fellow Tech Support member will be coming with her own camera for the sake of the fanship, and I promised I would. And again, Matt (and Chris and Nell) are wearing their costumes, and I had already told myself (and you guys) that it would be my stand of solidarity to costume-up with him. And as it turned out, I'm not their handler, I'm not their groupie, I'm not their sidekick and most importantly, I'm not their superior. I am them. I was Matthew Atherton about 8 years before MATTHEW was Matthew.

Now let's see what they think. None of them seemed to have any idea that I even have a costume. I don't think they know that I had auditioning in my head. I was busy working with them for as long as they needed me, even though I was encouraged to go and enjoy the convention for myself if I wanted to. But I didn't want to. I was getting all the glow I needed from watching fans meet their heroes, and in particular, watching Feedback love people.

Are you ready for sacrilege? Okay, I won't spell it out, because a long time ago I was told that God is a jealous God, and if I love anything more than Him, He'll take it away from me. I no longer support that belief, but you've seen how dire my thoughts can grow, so just in case, I won't say it. But I will say this; I'd probably have turned out being John the Beloved. (I think the Lord is not threatened by this analogy. In fact, I think the Lord set this all up for me. Because I feel more inclined to return to regular worship now that I have in years.)

Stay tuned for further developments. Today is going to be a short day. It closes down shop at 4PM. Then wherever they're going, I'm going.

So that's all right then.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Archive, This One's For You

If you have to turn in your membership, then my badge goes right on top of yours. I too entered the Yahoo board because I was sick with disappointment when I discovered that he had an IdmB (or whatever) page with acting credits.

Only I went and sprayed my disappointement all over the FanBoy Radio Boards, of which I was already as solid a member as I am at Yahoo with Tech Support.

Then, Matt started to win me over too. He answered directly to me, sparked me onto new internet search & rescue of his hero rep, and became redeemed in my eyes. Then I went back to the FanBoard and became his greatest defender which led up to the radio interview. The rest is history.

Now tonight, I detailed a bit over at Tech Support, and you are absolutely right. There's a new Fantastic Four. You should have seen Nitro when he saw Feedback again after so long. Right up into his arms he leapt. Unabashed joy. Serious buddy love!

And I'm learning more and more every minute about how to open your heart and accept people. Feedback's smiles should be bottled and sold in Iraq. Matthew Atherton really WAS born to be a superhero. There's a scene in the upcoming episode where he answers Blackthorn's concerns about whether or not he wants to be Feedback. You will hear Matt's actual soul coming through those lines.

And do you know, when I left the Javits Center and headed back to my car, I offered a woman help with her luggage at a distant subway stop?

I have to get to sleep. Early day tomorrow at the booth. I've got so much more to say, but there's just too much going on to say it all.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Operation Feedback: A Success

I hate my brain. Okay, not my brain, but my mind. Why did it torture me like that? How much of all that fear was utter rubbish? Was ANY of it a legitimate concern?

Readers, tell me! Go to the comments and tell me, please! Say you had the chance to drive Meryl Streep to a luncheon in a distant town, so you knew you'd be spending time with her. Or insert your Most Admired Somebody. What would be running through your minds? I want to know!!

Because now I feel like a nutter. Was I just freaking myself out for nothing? Do you all just meet cool people everywhere and make friends casually? Is life really that uncomplicated?! Because if it is, I WANT SOME!!!

Well. I mean I want some MORE.


And there will be more tomorrow, as I hoped. And then things will become normal. Normally friends. Like it's just no big thang. The man and his wife are just effortlessly nice people.

I'll tell you more tomorrow, when there's more to tell.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

TO-night's The NIIIIIGHT, It's Gunna Be ALLLLLRight ... !

On soft rock stations, whenever Rod Stewart comes on, I turn the dial. (I do the same with Elton John.) But the title of his song seemed apropos.

A few Sundays ago, I had a dream which preceded the Flying-Past-My-Old-Pastor's-House dream. I didn't mention it because it seemed too fanboyish, even for me. It was an afternoon nap-dream, and it was real simple. For some reason, Matt Atherton and I were hanging out in NYC. I had taken him to 640 Riverside Drive to show him where I used to live when I was a city-mouse. There wasn't much to show, except barrio life and cultural diversity. Matt's a tall, dirty-blonde white guy from California, so I figured his interest was bound to wane. So instead, I suggested we just get some sleep, although it was daylight outside. He agreed and we went to sleep like brothers in the same bed. I think I may have napped inside the dream (or the dream had paused, giving the affect of sleeping inside the dream), and then when I 'woke up' Matt was standing over the bed looking kind of perplexed or conflicted. I asked what the problem was and he said, sheepishly, "I thought ... you know ... that we were going to hang out together and do stuff."

Since I waited so long to tell this dream, I can't remember if it happened before he became booked at the NY Comic Con or not. Did I have this dream in anticipation of him coming to NY, or did I dream it first and then made it happen?

During my phone convo with My Friend The Doctor the other day, he said to me, "You're not idolizing this guy, are you?" He'd been there when I formed my relationship with My Mentor in Missouri and he cautioned me the whole way. He remembered one particular day when My Mentor had come down hard on me for not meeting a financial goal (this was before I knew I had to set any). I was devastated and My Friend The Doctor saw it all over me. So from that point he hated to see me set myself up for failure. He doesn't believe that anyone is worthy to be idolized as a hero, and he never did particularly like My Mentor.

So during my descriptors to MFTD about Matt, he heard how fast I was falling and he asked his question, and then I just replied, "Come on, you know it's too late for that. What was I supposed to do? He came wrapped up in a big superhero suit!"

MFTD groaned. He hates to see me brokenhearted. I reminded him that my relationship with My Mentor has worked out fine--that I saw the feet of clay eventually and still we're great friends and all the attention I poured out during my Missouri days were not wasted. I can call My Mentor when I need him and we talk for hours and my whole day gets better.

Will I have that kind of relationship with Matt? I doubt it, what with him out saving the world every fifteen minutes. But will tonight's meeting end in disaster? Will he push me aside this weekend? Will he leave New York without a trace? No. He will not. Whatever kind of person he actually is--however attached or detached from reality, however attentive or absent-minded, however besotted with his wife or annoyingly clingy he might get with me--I've chosen to be friends with him. I'm going to emulate the quality that I believe he has. I'm going to choose to be a friend to him whether he's 'worthy' or not. After all, that's what people have done for me and it has saved my life.

Whether Matt continues to reciprocate friendship or his attention is temporary, I feel like I'm learning how to be a better person through it.


I regret nothing.

I'll will say this, though, for anyone who needs to know (the way I definitely would). If I don't come back and post positively about this weekend, you can assume the worst-case scenario. I won't want to type it out because it will be painful, so you can infer from my silence. And that's me setting up some heart-protection.

Otherwise, on we go into that good night...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Write Too Much

Another sleepless night. I know exactly why. I'm contemplating something that will propel me out of my comfort zone. All the words of the past few days were my efforts to keep my momentum going. My discoveries are valid. I am at once mean and gentle. I want to simultaneously be a sidekick and a hero. I both want to be on a reality TV show dressed in costume to live out my boyhood fantasies and be a mature, grounded, well-adjusted adult.

Match.Com Girl finally replied to me. The title of the e-mail was, "Thanks, but..."
The body of the e-mail was, "Thanks for writing to me, but unfortunately, we're just not a good match. Good luck in your search!" The email is in html format, so the message came with the benefit of her picture. Thus her Corinne Bailey Rae-like face is peering at me as I read the rejection. At the bottom of the letter, Match.Com says,

"Don't get discouraged!

With millions of singles on, you're bound to find a few that aren't right for you. Don't let that stop you; instead, search for and contact other members who are waiting to meet you!
Tip: To increase your chances of making a true connection with someone, click Do we match? when viewing that member's Portrait. You'll see how well the two of you match up by comparing your Portraits. If you're convinced you'll make a connection regardless, explain why in an email!"

So how did Match.Com know that M.cGirl was rejecting me? I'm guessing there was an easy "No" button she could click and out spits the e-mail form-letter rejection, and then the further encouragement to keep giving them my money.

Fortunately I read that after I had made my lengthy post last night, so it didn't really factor in to my sleeplessness.

No, my major concern right now is that I'm not a good candidate for this television show. I watched some YouTubage where stealthy rulesbreakers are going to get their footage of the auditions yanked any day now. A major question Stan Lee asks the superheroes is "Why do you want to be on this show?" His delivery is bombastic. Confrontational, you might even say.

It's a question on the application, in fact. My answer was "Because there are a thousand more people like I was a year ago; lost and scared, in despair without hope or a hero. I want to be someone else's "Feedback"."

Now I'm lead to believe this is a wrong answer. I should want to go on the show because *I* need to be on the show? Because I *want* to be on the show? I should be doing this for *myself*?

How is that superheroic?

I'm sleepless because I don't think I really do want to be on the show. I think I'd still rather be the sidekick than the hero. I'd rather be Jimmy Olsen than Superman. I'd rather be the Assistant Director of my psych department than the Director.

My Friend The Doctor said that would be wrong. He said Feedback would lose respect for me. Actually, maybe My Friend The Doctor would lose respect for me. I think it's pretty clear that he would, but I think Matt is my friend because he's Matt, not because I am or am not a hero.

Ah well. My Friend The Doctor still is, as the title implies, my friend and he's not perfect. He himself admits that he has no heroes. He might not know how good it feels to admire someone else--to be inspired by someone other than himself. And he might not know how good it feels to be unconditionally loved by a hero.

Because that's what heroes do.

Stan Lee: "Why do you want to be on this show...?"
Me: Knows why now.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things About Me That I Don't Know

I was in the middle of a stunned gasp from My Friend The Doctor. He was on the phone earlier today and I had just finished throwing him a clue that he had immediately understood. He *literally* stammered, "You're not going to wear spandex, are you?"

I laughed, but I was petrified at the same time. We were solidifying our plans for the NY Comic Con--what I would do and what he would do, and what we'd be able to do together. So I had to tell him about my audition ambitions. My Friend The Doctor has a cutting, razor-sharp wit. He mercifully did not use it on me. But he was heavily concerned for what I might be doing to myself. Then he made five costume suggestions so that his buddy (me) would not go and make an utter and total ass of himself, and embarass him beyond redemption.

My Friend The Doctor went on to suggest 4.5 out of the 5 costume components that I already will be employing. Does he know me, or what?

And then I asked him if he knew why I was doing this. He said, "Because it's something you've wanted your whole life."

That was *my* cue to literally stammer. I told him, "No no, it's because Feedback deserves a..." and enumerated the reasons that I posted here. But now I've been thinking and thinking. And thinking.

I believe when I first dressed in costume, I didn't even know My Friend The Doctor. And I do believe Matt Atherton may have been, like, 5 years old.

God, this feels so wrong to consider. I'm not the hero, but ... how did I not become the hero?

My Friend The Doctor said, "You better put everything into this. You'd better not give this away." He actually wants me to be a hero. He actually thinks I'm supposed to be the hero. How could that guy see me as a hero? He saw everything I've failed at for the past 20 years now.

What the hell is going on.

I, uh, I think I'm his hero. If I were my therapist, and I were told our conversation earlier, and all our history together, I would suggest that he wants me to be his hero. He wants me to win the show because I'm his hero.

How is this at all possible? Do I need to start taking medication? Does any of this even resemble sanity? How am I getting so grandiose now that I would impose myself as a hero in someone else's life?

Earlier today I browsed by Feedback's website where he has tips for the next contestants for the show. He notably says this;

"#6) Be passionate. Let it mean a lot to you. That's what the show is about, and the more passionate about it you are, the more they'll look at you as a possible candidate to be on Season 2!"

Is it fair that I waste their time? Is it a fair representation of Matt if I am not passionate about being a hero? I'm only passionate about OTHER people being heroes. It only means a lot to me that Matt is Feedback. Does that count? Is that fair?

What the hell am I doing.



Okay. Okay.

City of Heroes. It's time to remember some stuff. City of Heroes. I was New Mutant. I am New Mutant. I've been playing since 2004. I can't even enjoy City of Villains, the sister game that allows you to be evil. Nope. What's the use in that?

When I'm fighting in City of Heroes ... wow. This really is inside of me. I can fight evil for hours.

I remember it now. I feel the passion of it--it's been in there all along. When I first picked up the X-Men and Fantastic Four. When I used to practically run to Monsey on the train tracks on Saturdays to go to the Flea Market and find out if the X-Men would ever restore Kitty Pryde's future mind to her body, or save Senator Kelly from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. When I used to go to NYC to the comic conventions to find back issues of the Fantastic Four and backfill my collections. When I sidled up to John Byrne out in the hotel lobby while he sat inconspicuously in a plush chair and got his autograph in my sketchbook. When I used to go to 575 Madison Avenue just to get a look at where Marvel Comics and Stan Lee were.

When I went to Joe Kubert's School, ready to be a comicbook artist.

When I published my one comicbook. (And no, I cannot believe that I just found it on the internet. OH MY GOD)

Dammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmn it.

So now, I just got off the phone again with My Friend The Doctor. I can correct something. I'm not his hero, per se. I didn't ask specifically if I were, but I asked if he had any heroes at all anywhere. He said no. He doesn't see things as I do. He doesn't get why I glom onto heroes the way I do. But he is, however, very aggressive, himself (he might be his own hero). He does think that if I'm going to do this, I should do it because *I* want to be the hero, not because I want to be a sidekick. Then we both agreed that I'm more comfortable being the sidekick.

Now why the hell is THAT true? Because true it is. I'm more comfortable being the sidekick, being a part of the team--but when its my turn to opinionate, I SO do. And if someone disrespects me--ME--I am ready to kick some serious ass. (Just ask the people who drive around me on the roads).

Apparently, there's a hero inside of me. He fights for me. He's been with me all along.

And here's what My Friend The Doctor totally said to me which sealed the damn deal. He said, "He treats you like a peer because it's what he's comfortable with. If you want to act like a sidekick instead of a peer, you'll lose his respect."

I've been saying it, but damn if I didn't really mean it. So now I need to mean it. I have to actually let it go and then own it.

Matt Atherton's a friend. Of. Mine.

THAT is all right then.

Isn't it?

Pessimism Vs. Grandiosity

Scott, here's what's scary--I actually like my idea for the character. I filled out the application over the weekend and it asks some very searching questions, both of 'Your Superhero' and Yourself. When I reviewed, and re-reviewed the application, it seemed as though my concept and profile are excellent show fodder. It's like I'm the kind of guy they would love to roast on their reality-TV show spit. "Watch the superhero have a meltdown before your eyes!"

And why would I want to do that to myself? I want love and I love attention--and for however long I'd be on the show, I'm sure I'd attract some fans--but at what cost? My real superhero persona is Worst-Case Scenario Man. Everything that could go wrong is usually the first thing that I think of. If I got on the show, would I ever be able to hold my head up in public again? Would I ever be able to entertain a client again without them bursting out laughing in my face? And what about my estranged, extended family? What would be my chances of ever seeing them again after I was ridiculed off the show? Or if I won and became the Next NEXT Great Superhero? You think of my family, think of The Klumps. "That's nice, baby, but ... what's a superhero? Is it like Herk-U-Lees? Herk-U-Lees, Herk-U-Lees, Herk-U-Lees!"

Vvvvvhh--!! (my own made-up sound of frustration)

And now get this--my bipolarish brain is actually making me think that if I audition, I'll actually GET on the show--and that's why I'm angsting! I mean, come ON. In my audition, I intend to clearly name Feedback and Tech Support. Feedback works into the origin of my superhero. My costume even has a prominent, blatant, non-mistakeable feature that takes after Feedback's costume. You might even call me "Kid Feedback" once you see the costume. So that might just completely disqualify me. And that would be fine. Desirable, even. Yet in my grandiosity, the real problem I'm having with auditioning is the fear of success!


How could I become the Next NEXT Great Superhero? How could anyone?! Feedback cannot be replaced--he still hasn't gotten his just due! And I never want him to go away! I don't want to be in a world where there's no Feedback! I don't want the attention that he should have--I don't want anyone to have it. (Well, okay, let Jesus Christ have it. But no one else!)

And what would it mean to my relationship with Matt? It would be like getting hired to take your best friend's job when you didn't even really want it! And I would SUCK at it! I'm not as willing as Matt is to be Feedback all over the country. I don't want to do comicbook signings in West Hell, Wisconsin. I don't want to pose with people's children. My heart isn't as big as his and my smile isn't as bright. I wouldn't treat my fanclub as awesomely as he does his. I wouldn't become the kind of hero and friend to a persistent, obsessive fan as Matt has become to me. (I sure as Hell wouldn't let them pick me up at an airport in the middle of the night!!!)

You know what else? Yesterday I went out shopping to pick up some stuff, (as I am currently obsessed by Chunky chocolate bars, with their peanutty and raisiny goodness, yummmm) and I got in line at the CVS behind an old woman who was obviously enjoying her day out of the old folks' home and enjoying the attention of the store clerk. And what do you think my reaction was? Just guess.

"Hurry up, you old bag!!"

No I didn't say it aloud, but it informed my whole mood. I felt surly and hostile by the time I got to the counter. And after I bought my Chunky and half-pint of milk, I walked past the old woman, who was arranging and rearranging her many bags in her little bitty shopping cart, and did I think for a millisecond that I should offer her help? Did I even spare a single smile for her? I mean, could I not afford just the TINIEST bit of human kindness for a lonely old woman?!?! Damn!!!

If that had been a superhero challenge, I would have been sent home quicker than Levity. There should be a show called "Who Wants To Be A Supervillain--?" because I SUUCCCKKK--!!!!

Okay, you know what? I need to calm down. My heart is actually beating fast, here.

Let me just be real. I will most likely NOT get on the show, grandiose ideation notwithstanding. Auditioning is just for me to have some fun and give tribute to all the wonderful people who have improved my life.

And I still have a next time. Next time, I will smile. I'll treat them like I would my own grandparents to be treated, next time.

And at the convention, this week--if someone wants me to--I'll pose with a child or two. Because Feedback would. And he's my friend.

So that's all right then.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Performance Barrier; "The Hardest Part Is When You're In It..."

Remember that song?

I've been in love before,
I've been in love be-FOORRE
(The hardest part is when you're in it)

Well, now I'm finding myself in the midst of another Performance Barrier. Let me first redirect your attention to this post. In it, I detail why I felt Feedback and myself were like-minded people, and he agreed. Now may I draw you attention to this post, where I described some of the costumes I have actually cobbled together in the past to attend Comic Conventions.

There is an actual freedom in wearing another persona. Especially when the persona is heroic and larger than you. It forces confidence while at the same time, allows hiding. It makes you a spectacle of attention but at the same time provides you a shelter of anonymity.

And in costume, you can DO stuff that you might never do elsewhere. (Or perhaps you might.) For me, the prospect of putting on another costume promises me a few things that I find very attractive;

1) I could join My Hero and live life as he does for a few minutes, maybe hours.

2) I could put my money where my mouth is, in effect defeating the idea that, "Yes, I think you're awesome. I admire your passion to follow this inspiration that we both share. But there's no way I'd ever do what YOU do!"

3) Go back to the pre-Feedback days of innocence when comics were just fun and pretending was freedom.

4) Again, join my hero. But in this context "join" means "bond with". I'm evidently hungry to bond with my heroes. I hope that's common. Something inside is not content to just admire from afar. It may be hubris to think that I should dare to become peers with great people. It might be pride or stubbornness. I may be trying to feed my ego. I really don't have an answer to this one.

Scott told me that I shouldn't think it unusual that people would want to be friends with me. I'm evidently still trying to convince myself of that. And I seem willing to put a costume on to pack on an extra layer of worthiness to earn a friendship.



So this leads me to the reason I'm posting. I have my costume ready. I tried it on yesterday. I scared myself. I've lost 30 lbs in a year and I think I actually look good. (I seem to always think this. Or at least, I've typed that phrase a lot. Good to know I don't TOTALLY hate me.)

And now, I've thought up an actual superhero persona to go with the costume. That would make me able to try-out for the next season of Who Wants To Be A Superhero. And so, I seriously considered it. Even stated in one cyberplace that I would.

And now I don't want to.

Performance Barrier.

The reason why I wanted to do it to begin with is that I would just use the platform to shout out Feedback and Tech Support. Get up there in front of everyone just to let them know how much I appreciated Matt, and get their attention back onto him so that this whole swell of New Seasonism doesn't leave my friend behind in a big cloud of dust. It actually hurts to think of Matt as being forgotten or neglected. I just think he deserves more than that for being who he is. I love the guy and want to see the best for him.

Now all this resolve is getting washed out in a haze of fear. Now I'm just like, WHAT THE HELL AM I THINKING?!? ME, the guy that was losing sleep and appetite over training a class of 13 people wants to get up in front of HUNDREDS in a SUPERHERO COSTUME?!?!

Performance Barrier. The hardest part is when you're in it.

Thing is, I can probably do this, once I go ahead and try. That's my theory. I could probably audition for American Idol as Simon and Paula as the judges, if only I would just try. Not trying is no answer. Fear is the mind-killer.

And I look DAMN good in my costume. And I've done this before. And mind you, the costume is conservative. I'm not taking a chance to go Speedo-surfing and utterly ruin my professional career. The items I will wear are all something found in everyday clothing attire. Well, okay, not EVERYday, or else how would it be a costume? But I put it together nicely and it fits the character. And I'm not looking to get chosen to go on the show--I can't afford to take time off, and definitely can't afford to be plastered all over national television with all my psyche hanging out. This is just something I want to do for Matt.

Boy oh boy. With all this angst going on, picking him up from the airport is going to be like getting a burger from McDonald's.

Which is a nice consequence. :)

"Performance Barrier--It's What's For Dinner!"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Performance Barrier

I think I figured something out.

I can do a lot of stuff, but I don't know it until I've tried.

I hate to try because I don't know if I can do it and the not-knowing makes me anxious. The anxiety comes because I fear failure. Failure seems like ruin. In my mind, ruin cannot be repaired. But I'm wrong.

If I try and fail, I can, and should, try again. Ruin doesn't come from failure. Education comes from failure. The potential to improve comes from failure. My father was a 40-year old man when I was born--you think he would have had the wisdom to tell me that. But how ever old I wind up being when my son(s) and/or daughter(s) is/are born, I'll make sure to impart it.

Life is a series of performance barriers. I'm discovering that they are worth breaking through.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Doing Better Than I Expected

Today's training is going better than yesterday's and yesterday's was fine. Yesterday it took 1.5 hours for me to relax and feel the students. It helped me get settled for thoughts of today. And then last night, I was told by my boss that I would have to do this training BY MY SELF. Yes, it's supposed to be with two people.

The news actually helped calmed me down. Alone, I can do the training. It's evidently the co-trainer that makes me nervous! What a revelation to discover where the performance anxiety lies!

Okay, gotta go back. It's going to be an awesome weekend!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Here We Go Again, Again

I have to do a training in an hour. So, of course, I only got five hours of sleep last night. And my stomach's a mess. HATE it.

And tomorrow, I have to do ANOTHER training in a town an hour away. And I have to start at 8:00AM! So I have to leave here at ... what's the math?

This is the feeling I had when I had my highest-paid job while living in NYC. I would have to get in my car and drive to Jersey and find at-risk kids to do therapy with in their homes. And also do supervision with other life-coaches. And do interviews with families to write up care plans. If it hadn't made my stomach want to rebel from my body each day, I'd still have that job and still be living in NYC.

Now ... why did I become a therapist again ... ? It's like being an actor with terrible stage-fright. The rewards are incredible, but the pressure wrecks your lifestyle.

Bleeeggghh. I'm off to get a latte. I got a gas-reimbursement check on Tuesday, then I got snowed-in yesterday, so financially, I'm saved for the week. (Except the cellphone company decided to snatch their payment two days early this month. Khaaaaan!) But tomorrow's payday, and D&D in the city, then a nice committment-free Saturday, then in a week...


So that's all right then.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Newest Producer

To my surprise and relief, I blog to you now from the seat of the newest Darker Projects producer. It pays approximately $0 dollars and .00 cents. In fact, less, since I spend money to get some resources.

But the audio adventures that I put together for Feedback was released in November and then took too long to come out again. Then the guy putting it together, who consquently is also the Executive Producer of Darker Projects, was mowed down by a car. He lives, thank God, and is convalescing, but the Feedback's audio went on delay. Then he asked me to take over the "post-production". Which meant me taking all the voices, mixing them, and adding special effects which I would need to find. It was daunting to say the least, but I wanted to do it because I wanted it to get DONE. I was tired of waiting. I feel like Matt deserves good things for jumpstarting my muse, so I took the chance that I knew enough to make it happen if no one else could.

Well, I finished half an hour ago. It still needs a musical score, which another greatly talented fan of Matt's is doing. It should be online by March 1st, at the latest.

But I look back at the process of the work and it seems like there was not a minute of 'producing' that I spent in confidence. I only really loved the result after I played it back to myself, but after I'd finish, I had to look again to the new work with dread. It felt like it would take forever because I didn't think I'd be able to figure out the right tricks in time. I kept thinking I'd get stuck at a point that I couldn't get past. But I kept getting past it. And things that I wasn't satisfied with, I corrected--even though I didn't think they were fixable. And I don't think it's perfect (which I wanted), but I think it's really good.

It was the same way with the novel. I'm waiting for Tor Books and the delightful Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden to send me my rejection form letter so I can get back to work on making the novel publishable, when it's very possible that I actually wrote a good piece of fiction.

Confidence. THAT'S my problem. In every aspect of my life. I need to believe better about me. How do I do that without going across the line into hubris and conceit? I think I have stuff to offer and I think I'm competent. I have history and product to prove that I can produce. I've had girlfriends. I have professional licenses. I've had good reviews. I have friends.

So what is really up?

Well, I don't know, but I hate the way it makes me feel. I want to be satisfied with myself.

So I will say it right here right now.

I DID it!! I produced a 40 minute audio drama!! The Executive Producer appointed me as chief cook and bottlewasher of the project! I gots skillz!!

YAY ME!!!!!!!!!

And yes, I'm not speaking about Valentine's Day on purpose. Rats. I just did.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wish Fulfillment; Post Script

And I have a post script for last night's post;

Please don't think I was trying to brag. This blog is where I come to process both the bad and good things. My obesessively analytical mind overflows and I use blogger to get it out of me.

But even after I blogged I still had a strange dream.

In my dreams, for twenty-odd years now, maybe longer, I fly. I fly like a bird, which involves flapping my arms like a bird flaps his wings. So even though I don't have feathers, I ride the air. I glide and soar. To get altitude, I have to take off from a running start and flap. Sometimes I don't make it and land on my chin in a pile of cartoon-dust. But when I catch the right updraft it's very rewarding. I wheel, I soar, I ride. I think I fly in my dreams because I'm so often bound by circumstances here in reality. My mind longs for freedom and in my dreams (even though my analytical mind imposes physics on me) I get to be free.

Well last night, I flew. But this time, I used my flight to take care of some unfinished business. In reality, when I left to go to Bible School, I thought I had the support of my first "father-figure". This was back before I even knew what to call the function that he met in me. He is the pastor of the first church I attended, where I went fanatic for a good ten years before I left to the ministry. After I got to Missouri, this man practically dropped me. You see, I went to Missouri with My Friend The Doctor. Only back then, he wasn't -The Doctor. We started on the same footing, but he made it work for him and became -The Doctor. Me, I staggered and bailed, and restarted, and dropped out. I came away with a Master's and he came away with a wife and a doctorate (one of those staggerations was when I met My Mentor). But when we were out of the First Father-Figure's sight, we seemed to be out of his mind. He never followed up on us. He never called. He never wrote. Thank God for My Mentor, because he's twelve times the man that The First Father-Figure was.

So last night in my dreams, after gaining the sky, I used that freedom to visit The First Father-Figure. I hovered over his house. I spied on him. There was no scandal to uncover, I just had (have) unfinished business. I had never told him goodbye.

In my dream, I didn't tell him goodbye either, but I did what I do. I avoided him. I avoided him the way UFOs avoid farmers in Iowa. He saw me. I zoomed and flapped through his bedroom windowscreen, I swooped under his car door right under the nose of his righthand man, and I let him see that I was free without stopping to talk. However, he put restrictions on my release. He called after me, saying that I had borrowed some keys from him when I had left back in 1992, and if I brought them back, he would dismiss me with no consequences (yes, it was that kind of church. You didn't just 'leave' this congregation. You either took the Right Hand of Fellowship, or you were labeled a backslider. Such baggage I carry, right?)

So off I went flapping from the New Jersey church to the New York town that I grew up in to go get this key. All that flapping started to tire me out. When I reached my old neighborhood, I could barely stay above the treetops. I started attracting attention from the people on the ground. In my dream, like in my life, they were innercity youth transplanted to suburbia. When they saw me flying, they were amazed at first, but then they wanted their piece of the miracle. They would jump up to grab me. The more they tried, the more frustrated and angry they grew. The more I tried to avoid them, the more tired I got. It seemed eventually that I would be caught and never get to deliver that key or finally free myself from The First Father-Figure.

So ... I woke up. And I do mean I consciously pushed myself up from the bed on my arms and exhaled with relief. I effected another escape. But like all my escapes, it left an unfulfilled goal behind. In my dream, and in my real life, I am not free from The F F-F.

In two weeks, a wish is going to be fulfilled. But in my head I'm still battling demons and sins and hauntings of a turbulent and dysfunctional past.

So when I gush about My Hero, and express my joy, my amazement, my gratitude, my wonder, my awe -- please don't hate. I do it because I need to.

I need to actively ruminate on the good things in my life because I could too easily drown in all the bad.

And I just refuse to drown.

And Now, A Heroine ...

This took quite a nice bit of work. I'm alerted now that there's a lipsyncing culture on YouTube. I'll not be getting lost in it. But while following some Jennifer Hudson footage (I blame you, Tanya) I found this inventive, earnest young lady.

Watch out for her in the next ten years. This kind of energy is rewarded.