Tuesday, February 3, 2009

25 Things About Me (Facebook Tag)

I don't know that I'll be able to think of 25 things about myself that are very interesting, and I'm afraid I'll disappoint those of you that tagged me. My hope is that I was tagged out of a necessity, as if you thought, "oh, who can I tag? I'll just tag Mike."

One thing that jumped to mind is that (1) I've always wanted to see a blue whale. They're the biggest animals on earth! Why wouldn't I want to see one? Of course, maybe giant squids are bigger, but those things are disgusting. Whales are mammals that live underwater. That in itself is cool. So far (2) the closest I've ever come to seeing a blue whale is seeing a manatee at the Dallas aquarium, but as you can tell, that's not very close at all. The manatees were cool though, and it was a fun day. I kept chuckling as I thought back to the fake manatee-themed-porn from Conan O'Brien's website.

I can't exactly place where my fascination with the blue whale comes from. As I think now, it may have to do with my (3) childhood obsession with dinosaurs. (Sorry for including that one, by the way, I guess most boys were obsessed with dinosaurs when they were kids.) But the only way that blue whales are related to dinosaurs are that they are big, so I guess I think the size of these creatures is what makes them compelling. I mean, how many kids do you know would call compsognathus their favorite dinosaur? That's right, none!

When I was a kid, (4) my favorite dinosaur was always the one they hadn't discovered yet, and were only theorizing about. You know, the one that was spectacularly huge and fantastic but always turned out to be a hoax to disappoint impressionable minds like mine and make them give up their dreams and settle for whatever job pays the bills with the least amount of effort or responsibility. You know, like what Santa Claus is to Christian kids. 

(5) While I was obsessed with dinosaurs, I was also obsessed with knights and armor. One of my favorite books was the "visual dictionary" about old weapons and stuff. I loved dreaming of my own stories, and drawing my own characters with strange armor that was really just me trying to copy the old samurai images and then call them my own. I think I liked dinosaurs more because they were more mysterious, so they allowed me more space to convince myself that my own fantasies were true. (6) When I was a kid, I would always tell stories (lies) and convince my sister that they were real. For example, I once cut the hair off of her My Little Pony doll and told her it would grow back. Beyond that, I told her that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were real, and living under the auditorium at Ray Elementary. Looking back now, I think the reason I did that was because it made our world that much more interesting. It made it one we actually wanted to be a part of. 

(7)There's no one I look up to more than my siblings. I have had many different role models growing up: parents, relatives, teachers, friends, etc, but none have ever meant as much to me as my brother and sister. Isaac is someone who I will always have the utmost respect and admiration for, and will always look up to. I look at other people who don't have the sort of relationship with their brother that I have with mine, and I realize how blessed I am to have Isaac in my life. I admire Anna for different reasons, but easily just as much. I doubt there is anyone more universally talented and creative than Anna. She is one of the only people I know who just "gets it," perhaps nothing exemplifies this more than the fact that she's the only one who truly knows what I mean by this sentence. As I ponder her character now, I can think of countless virtues that she strives to exemplify on a daily basis. The world would be better if more people were like my siblings. 

I think I am so close with my siblings because of my parents' divorce, and the massive crater it left in our early lives. Since then, (8) my only purpose in life has been to make other people happy, and this is a significant problem for me. I remember when I was 6 my mother was crying in our kitchen. My parents had just had a fight and I don't know where my father was. But my mother was crying. To my six year old mind, the cause of this fight was that the American-brand potato chips that my mom bought were stale, and my father didn't like them. So I sat down next to my mother and I ate the chips and I told her I liked them. 

I don't know how I got the impression that the fight was over stale chips, but to a six-year-old, such a thing makes perfect sense. I don't know where I got that memory, by the way, as my recollections of my childhood are patchy at best. (9) My memory is always vivid when I'm meeting someone important. When I think back to the first time I encountered people who would become my best friends, I can always remember every detail of those moments, even down to which song I had stuck in my head or the music I was listening to. When I think about all of the people who are my best friends today, I can tell you almost every minute detail about how and where I met them. 

I'm not saying that I would hesitate to call someone whose first impression I can't recall one of my best friends, but (10) I'm usually very insightful upon first meeting someone. It doesn't take much for me to know whether or not I'll get along with someone. I would never go so far to claim anything particularly unique about this insight I claim to have, but I will say that it's derived from my sensitivity and my deductions. I notice a lot when I'm on guard, and people can't really hide the way they are. My cynicism frames this in terms of me being able to spot the people I don't like, even though I should actually be looking for the opposite. 

(11) I am severely controlled by my habits. This is one of the things I've been working on lately, but without much success. Thankfully, I don't have any habits like smoking or drinking that are related to addictive substances. Instead, I have habits like eating comfort food, or listening to the same three bands at night in order to fall asleep. Also, I recognize my relationship to my habits and am trying to create new ones that will have a positive impact on my life, like writing every night or jogging. 

(12) I often find writing and conceiving stories to be the most difficult and abhorrent activity that I could inflict upon myself, but I do it anyway. I have spent so many frustrated hours looking at half-blank documents on my computer that I feel ashamed at how much time I may have wasted. The romance, prestige, and even intellectual elitism that people associate with this common craft of writing is beyond me. To me, there is nothing special about being an artist of any kind, but (13) there is something mystical and powerful about art. The art is what connects with people, the art is what they respond to, not the artist. 

(14) The "art" that I seek to perfect is storytelling. Whether this is through prose, through film, through screenplays or smoke signals, I wish to tell stories. 
I suppose this goes back to me telling my sister lies I called stories, like the time she stepped on a flower and I told her it was covered with a lethal poison that would disintegrate her skin unless she washed it off in five minutes. Or maybe it's because my favorite thing to do as a kid was watch movies, read comic books, and draw my own comics about clearly derivative characters and plots. (15) Now, I write movies about similar themes, and am finally beginning to feel good about them. It's only taken me about 10 years to figure it out, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I've discovered the themes that are important to me, and a multitude of avenues by which to explore them. (16) The first movie I ever wrote was about an underground rapper who becomes famous. Now I'm writing a movie about a famous rapper who returns to his underground roots. The second movie I ever wrote was a slapstick comedy about a President based on George W. Bush that I stopped writing after September 11th. It was called "Pickles," and it actually had some funny, Simpsons-inspired jokes, but as you can imagine, lacked anything remotely compelling to keep me interested in writing it. Adjacent to these ideas, (17)I have been working on the same story for the past 10 years. I have always called it "Above All Things," and have always considered this a "temporary title," but doubt that I could realistically call it anything else at this point. I still don't have names that I'm happy with, nor have I been able to devote the focus to writing it that I feel it needs to get done.

(18) I am a passionate person, but I am also reserved with my passions. I love movies and music, generally, but these loves aren't universal, and I am easily bored by movies and music that are outside my parameters of interest. With music this is especially true. In the grand scheme of things, I don't like many artists at all, mostly because (19) I am a nerd, and that means that when I fall in love with a band I must immediately collect all of their albums, singles, imports, rare material, and essential live concerts. I used to alphabetize my DVD's according to director name. I wrote an essay about the movie Heat for fun. Hell, just a few nights ago I posted a long-winded analysis about a rap album that nobody has ever heard for fun.

Here's a big one: looking back on my life, (20) I don't think I honestly became a Baha'i until December 9th, 2008. That is the day I first stepped inside the Shrine of Baha'u'llah. It was also my 28th birthday. People often ask me "how was Pilgrimage," and this is the answer I feel like giving but never really have enough time to elaborate on. Maybe I'll tell you in person one day. 

When I was in college I did a lot of reading of philosophy and literature and all kinds of good stuff, but (21) nothing has ever resonated with me as profoundly as the following passage by Jorge Louis Borges:

It's Borges, the other one, that things happen to. I walk through Buenos Aires and I pause - mechanically now, perhaps - to gaze at the arch of an entryway and its inner door; news of Borges reaches me by mail, or I see his name on a list of academics or in some biographical dictionary. My taste runs to hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typefaces, etymologies, the taste of coffee, and the prose of Robert Louis Stevenson; Borges shares those preferences, but in a vain sort of way that turns them into the accoutrements of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that our relationship is hostile - I live, I allow myself to live, so that Borges can spin out his literature, and that literature is my justification. I willingly admit that he has written a number of sound pages, but those pages will not save me, perhaps because the good in them no longer belongs to an individual, not even to that other man, but rather to language itself, or to tradition. Beyond that, I am doomed -- utterly and inevitable-- to oblivion, and fleeting moments will be all of me that survives in that other man. Little by little, I have been turning everything over to him, though I know the perverse way he has of distorting and magnifying everything. Spinoza believed that all things wish to go on being what they are - stone wishes to eternally be stone, and tiger, to be tiger. I shall endure in Borges, not in myself (if, indeed, I am anybody at all), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others', or in the tedious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him, and I moved on from the mythologies of the slums and outskirts of the city to games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now, and I shall have to think up other things. So my life is a point-counterpoint, a kind of fugue, and a falling away - and everything winds up being lost to me, and everything falls into oblivion, or into the hands of the other man.

I am not sure which of us it is that's writing this page. 


  1. one of the best FB notes about "25 things". i loved #7 and #13.

  2. This is so much better than a list. I appreciate your thoughts about writing and art.

  3. you're welcome and i agree. it more than a list. the more i read your work, the more i become a fan of M.C. ;-)

  4. Thanks for writing this and I did tag you on purpose. Yay for #13 and I look forward to hearing #14 in what ever form the story might take.

  5. I never knew you had a blog! Mike, I adore you. ...tell me every detail about the first time we met! I would love to hear about December 9,2008 and discuss your experience. Actually, I really just want to hear abou the whole trip! xoxo, Barbie

  6. I still haven't had the chance to read any of your fiction.


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