Before we go one step further, I would like the record to reflect that I come from a time that existed before filters.
There were no cell phones or camera phones and, at best, the smartest phone we had at the time was a cordless phone. Yes, I did have a rotary phone in my house, which is funny when I think about it.
We eventually had answering machines and pay phones and beepers. Yes, beepers (or pagers) and if you paged a friend from an unknown number, you typed in the phone number from a push-button phone and added a special code so they’d know it was you.
Or if it was important, like say an emergency, the call back might have the phone number followed by 911. Then you’d have to wait for the number to go through and then you’d have to wait for them to get to a phone and call you back. Sometimes this was quick. Sometimes, not so much.
Then again, to me it seems as if I’ll lose the younger generation in this description. However, I come from this time. I come from a time when photos were more honest than the way they are now with filters and Photoshop.
In fact, I watched a girl take a selfie on a bus ride home from New York City. She was young, somewhat buxom and pretty. Her qualities were nice and soft and certainly not perfect. But, she did have some nice features that she managed to embellish in the photo. She certainly managed to work in her cleavage, which was certainly pronounced and noticeable.
Then, what happened next was nothing short of false advertising.
I was sitting somewhat behind her being nosey, of course.
I could see her selfies, which she took about three or maybe four.
Then she picked the best of the bunch. Next, she started to doctor the photo.
By the time she finished with her selfie, the photograph looked nothing like her.
Nothing at all and I mean absolutely nothing at all!
Then what did she proceed to do?
(Like I said she was sitting somewhat in front of me from a diagonal direction so all of this was in plain view. And . . . I was being nosey. Plus, she was not trying to hide this either.)
She proceeded to send this picture out to several different people.
All I kept thinking was, what’s going to happen if these people ever meet you?
See, I come from a time before this. At best, the only instant photo we had was from a Polaroid camera. There was no “prettying” up our photographs. There was only, “this is me, right here,” and that was it.
I admit that I have never been much of a picture-taking person. I have a list of insecurities that go on about the way I look.
Then again, I suppose this makes me no different from most people.
I do not have many pictures of myself from my youth. Then again, no one walked around with a camera back then. To be clear, I am sure there are others who will agree that our generation is at a great benefit that there was no photo or video evidence of what we did or what we looked like.
Sometimes though . . .
I do come across some of my old photographs.
I look at some of my old hairstyles and some of my old outfits. Some of these outfits were my ‘go-to’ outfits because, at the time, I truly thought that this was my best look.
Here it comes again.
Here’s that same question. What the hell was I thinking?
I go back to the fashion tragedies from my time. I go back to the acid washed jeans and the high-top sneakers and the bad fashions of the 1980’s. I go back to some of the shirts I wore. I go back to the days of my long hair rebellions. I go back to the ideas of my mid to upper 20’s where I was trying to find myself.
Everything was more about “how you look” and less about “Who you are.”
I had no real sense of style.
I was more of a follower than a trend-setter.
I remember wearing overalls. I remember wearing pants known as Skidz. Those were horrible but ah, they were comfortable.
I remember going to the mall. Oh God, the mall.
I shake my head as I mention this because the mall was absolutely dreadful, yet I was there.
I shopped at the same stores all the time.
I know that I was always very thin which meant that it was hard for me to find clothes that accentuated my body in a way that didn’t have me look too emaciated.
Deep down though, I wanted to look cool.
I really did.
Looking back at some of the old photos of my youth and seeing the outfits from that time, I have to ask myself, “What the hell was I thinking?”
Was I thinking that this looked good?
I’m not sure.
If we had filters back then, maybe I could have snazzed the photos up a little.
Maybe I could have photo shopped some of my zits away.
Maybe I could have accentuated some of my features to become more appealing.
There are some photos, however, that tell me a story.
These are the ones where I look back at myself and see something different.
Maybe I look back on this with a different set of eyes.
Or maybe I realize that I didn’t look as bad as I thought I did.
Maybe I realize there was more going on.
Then again, there are pictures I see from my younger years that make me shake my head for different reasons.
I can tell by the expression on my face. I can tell what I was thinking when the photo was taken. I can see where the anxiety levels were and I can tell, just by the look on my face, whether I was in a mild or severe state of depressive thinking.
Not too many people admit to this sort of thing.
I listened to an interview of an actor who was on a sitcom for several years. He has since entered into a life of recovery. He openly discusses his challenges that went on at the time. Similarly, he mentioned how difficult it was for him to see certain videos or footage from his old show.
No one else knew what he was thinking or feeling. But just by looking and in the context of time, he knew where his head was at. He knew which picture exposed the progression or the different stages of his addiction.
The interesting part is when the actor discussed how people he worked with saw the same footage.
They remarked about how much fun they were having.
But none of this was fun to the actor.
I applaud him for his honesty.
I applaud him because I can relate.
I applaud him because it takes more than just honesty and courage to be truthful about ourselves.
To be clear, it takes a lot of balls to face one’s self with such rigorous honesty and say hey, that was me.
I am not as thin as I was in my younger years. I am older now.
At some point, my metabolism decided to laugh and told me to go fuck myself.
My weight has gone up and down and still, to this day, I do my best to avoid cameras and videos.
I am still not comfortable hearing recordings of myself nor am I comfortable while looking at pictures of myself.
I am not now, nor will I ever be a “selfie” person.
I’d like to think that I would never doctor my pictures up and send them out to a bunch of people with my best “look at me” request for attention.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have the need to be wanted or desired and appreciated.
I came across one of my old journal entries from about ten years ago.
I’ll leave this here to close out my daily thought.
I can tell where my head was at the time.
I can tell what I was thinking because I can remember the brutal meeting with a literary agent which took place the day before.
He blasted me.
He put me to shame.
He told me that writing your thoughts and journaling is good for people. But, that doesn’t mean people are always good writers. Namely me, is what he was trying to say.
The entry itself was short. . .
I try not to perform because I don’t want to be like a dog, begging and looking to please his master.
Else, I would be like so many others out there.
Else, I would be like so many other writers out there.
Else I would be like so many who I’ve seen, heard or read about.
I don’t want to write for attention.
I want to write to create.
But it would be nice to be noticed or hear someone say, “Hey, I get it.”
Besides, when it comes to the idea of being a writer, I don’t know the language or the rules of grammar so well.
Then again, and I’m not too sure about this; but when did art come with rules?
A while back, I made a decision.
I made a commitment to write every day.
I promised not to write about the same thing; that I would write about something different each day, that I’d write about you, my best friend, and even you too, my worst enemy.
I’ve followed through with this.
I wrote about love and sex and about my own greed.
I wrote about my own versions of sanity as well as the bouts with insanity, which I suppose is something that everyone goes through.
(At least to some degree.)
My anger has always raged although my fear of you (or anyone else) knowing about this has always kept me quiet – or otherwise, inwardly hostile.
I wrote about the codependency we have with ourselves and how our sicknesses become dependable, or degrading and unhealthy. Either way, one does not exist without the other; in which case, I mean we have to know about our insanity in order for us to become sane.
It seemed easier for me to relate to my life this way.
Through my journals. But oh –
As for the critics, I see them no differently than the kids in the hall,back at school who were eager to stir the pot and feed the gossip colonies. I see them as scrawny predators, looking to pick meat from the bone because they don’t have the courage to hunt or kill for themselves.
I see the critics as those who stab at the artists with their sharp words and razor-blade critiques to cut them deeply.
Maybe this way, no one can cut them – or make them bleed.
As I saw it, there are more people like me than not . . .
There are more people who wake up and struggle, who make little to no money but they still have big dreams.
There are more people like me who see themselves as possibly average or less-than beautiful but, at the same time, we’re unaware of our truest inner-beauty.
I was never much for pictures.
Not because I didn’t want to remember the good times. No . . .
this was because I didn’t want something to step in with a complication.
I didn’t want something to intercept a good memory with some kind of inaccurate distortion of self.
But like I said, I believe there are more people who are like me than not like me.
I admit to being angry. I admit to being uncomfortable and, at times, I admit to being venomous.
The truth is I was scared.
I was uncomfortable.
I still am . .
I know what it means to be about as outspoken as a poisonous snake, allergic to its own venom.
One thing’s for sure.
Everyone grows older, but insecurity can stay timeless.
Or at least so it seems.
I just want to be cool.
That’s what I’ve always been thinking.
I’m different now. Still writing. But I still have my bouts with the mirror.
Then again, don’t we all?