State of the Hours
Radio Silence should just be called Death in the podcasting game.
Hey, out there, it's Your Shit-Host of Between the Profound & the Profane, one part of the standing guard of the Wide Angle Vault, and Head Which Wayer of the Bonus Hours dot com
Christopher “Pocket” Myers”
We vanished a few weeks ago on our to Seattle to gain a post New Year morale boost with a star chart so we could formulate a navigation plot to course over the next year. We haven't exactly returned.
Home and safe is the best of what I can report after climbing down from that bumpy flight into Houston. Now, sitting in my office, unable to work in the ways I expected to, lacking the morale boost I so desperately wanted from taking my team to one of the best conventions I have ever been to, lost in open water without wind or a way to control it, I'm patching holes and fixing sails that have been tossed in a storm, and my remaining crew are battening down hatches for another typhoon.
I can't be frozen with indecision at these moments.
I can't afford to escape.
But against better judgement.
Many times I have talked about my problems with escape here, as well as recently on another podcast “Everybody Has A Story”, links in the show notes, but it's a recurring theme in my life. I'd say from my 20s onward, but that would be a bit of a misrepresentation. I've been escaping for as long as I can remember.
Thinking about being on Nate's show, I keep thinking of all the holes I could've fileld in as he shot questions at me. The places that make sense only when you spend time with them individually. There are things that happen to you that you'll never remember, either because you bounced off them or they were so small that they never registered, that will change everything about the course of your life andhow you react to the world.
Mine just so happened to have happened when I was a 7 month old child, on my Father's 30th birthday I was rushed to the Hospital with a spiking fever and later diagnosed with meningitis. It hadn't occurred to me until I was nearing 30 how much that must have changed my parents and their newly forming relationship with me. I don't have children, but I do know parents and I like to think I know MY parents so I can only imagine the amount of terror and bargaining that ran through their heads. I'd like to imagine my Dad trying to joke his way out of it, but crying in the room when the hospital grew still. Maybe that's a son's romantic idea of a stoic father that always had a smirk to share. No, the truth of the matter is that my parents probably had to sit and grapple and possibly honestly mentally bury a child they had only known for a handful of weeks. My therapist said it was a bit of a miracle that I exist at all, but I think that is a bit overblown. Even if it does rub that part of my brain that still fantasizes about the McGuffin falling from the sky and telling me I'm the special hero guy and all the craziness up till now has just been my super cool powers manifesting in wild and uncontrolled ways.
The fact that my first thought of my dad when I imagine I was in the hospital dying as an infant he barely knew is telling. Not of a cavlier and aloof dad, though maybe he was sometimes, but of a family that shared in great escapes. I think of my dad as joking in those situations because I survived that first brush with death and came to know him as that sort of man. It is a defense mechanism I inherited from him, and one I brandish as part of my identity sometimes in ways I don't mean to. Sword of Wit and Shield of Anger, artifacts blessed with powers inconceivable and yet we bare them as curses to hide behind when we are uncomfortable. I can learn to use it better and would like to believe I have, but it all comes down to escaping the current moment to be soemwhere else. Hell, even the overwrought metaphor that is leading us into these segues are just lengthy escapes for my mind to churn through emotions that i'm really bad at feeling in typical ways.
I have no full breadth of knowledge of my parents growing up. Not sure if anyone does. We get the highlights and filtered stories suitable for how they need us as children to percieve them as authority God in the household. Dad's stories always revolved around being a troublesome if not precocious mischief maker and farmhand who had his hands in sports of all sorts year round. As I got older my mom would off handedly mention that my dad tried hard not to treat my brother and I in the same way he felt his father treated him, but as all humans do I suppsoe he came up short sometimes. My Father and My Grandfather are good men. What I Imagine my mother was driving at was a level of expectation and push for ambition from your child, but often not being able to understand that we can't always meet the bar. Especially when it is raised arbitrarily. My dad liked sports. He was a proffessional bullrider which is a god damn crazy thing that I'm glad to say is part of my heritage. You don't jump on the back of a 2-ton beast and “Spur the Fire outta it, for years, because you're not trying to outrun something. If you're trying to escape your demons and wind up finding yourself that is a pretty badass way to do it.
My mother doesn't talk about growing up all that much. She became a rather avid reader, because of it.
How or if my parents ever escaped the idea that their baby nearly died, I'll never eally know, but from before I can remember, I found the truest of comfortable escapes in the rhythm of written words and the magicbox on the mantlepiece where all my friends lived.
There is not a tiem in my life that I wasn't trying to create a world to be in. My mother, being a sentamentalsit, may still have a number of notebooks and stories I wrote as far back as 3 years old. I remember writing some of them. Others are from before my brain was cataloguing images, and definitely before I had the motor function to hold a pencil, but written by my mother as dictated by me. Or so the story goes. If I wasn't writing my own fictions I was reading them, playing them, or watching them. Being the type of too smart for his age dweeb that I was, I knew pretty early on that television and movies and books were written by people whose job it was to do those things. Which leads to me Often then leading our outside imagnation play sessions with the neighborhood kids, like a “writer/director”. As well as maybe “playing” outside in that way for far longer than I should've been? I'm not sure. Escaping into group centered imagnation games as a kid gives way to being alone and 13 and wandering around in the woods with a notebook incredibly quickly. Running from what I didn't know was depression. Running from the weird terror of growing up for the first time. Escaping into some spot in the woods where I could hide what was left of my childhood in a circle of trees, and keep it safe for all eternity.
Why was I wandering the woods next to a creek like that at that age? Like that's how children get murdered.
About the time I'm wandering in the woods to escape puberty, there is a sudden drop in my care for school or how they are trying to teach me, or anything that is going on outside of myself and what I care about. I escape from school into my new stacks of notebooks writing most days rather than doing classwork. Going home to be lost in video games, writing more on my computer, or being lost in the cool waves of the early 2000s internet. Limewire and RPG Forums for everyone!
Should've known there was something extraordinarily off kilter about me when I was 14 and I convinced a couple dudes from school that a 16 year old girl that I met in one of those RPG Forums was begn stalked and abused by a 30 year old man. That is to say that I was convinced of this and I got some of my school friends to agree to ride a Greyhound bus a few states over to... some end... call it teeange horn, but I want to submit that whether what I was convinced of was true or not it is the lengths I attempted to go to in order to live this fantastical version of it are important to note.
I'm somewhat of a madman.
It wasn't long after that that the internet was taken away from me. It's not like you can be caught hanging with homeless people and jumping a bus to Mississippi because your internet girlfriend needs you to save her and still be allowed anything resembling normal teenage computer time ever again.
If you were to draw the lines and connect the sort of weird you'd never guess that this probably changed the course of how I do things moments in my life, it would start with nearly dying at 7 months and how that leads my parents to treat me with kids gloves for the rest of my life, but never having the will to stop me when I do crazy stuff, because “he's alive and we've buried him once before what more can happen” subconscious effect, and it would make a big gash at the point where I try to save my interent girlfriend from her abusive cop ex boyfriend. This would be 2002-2003 that I lost internet privileges and I don't think I fully gained them back until I was nearly a Senior in 2005-2006. When the computer was wrested from my hands and I had to quit internet cold turkey, like a junkie seeking a fix I lost all focus on the other good things I was doing with the device. I just needed a new escape from my brain that seemed to just run with ideas and screams and words and visions and rmemberances and repalys of old tv shows and
I had always loved video games. They had been with me since the dawn of time and the way they scratched certain itches was brilliant. I'll never not see Super Mario World as the best first and most complex puzzle I will ever solve and understand with every part of my brain. It is ingrained in my DNA. In 2002 I was on my computer more often than I was on my game consoles and thus the game I most often played was Morrowind. Somethign that often spurred my brain into wonderful tangents of creative thought. Coupling the alien worlds of Vvardenfell with my absolute undying addiction to (non-sexual) Roleplay chat rooms and forums and my entire day is nothing but thinking creatively and playing creatively and writing creatively. When my attention became fully focused on console video games, and the Xbox hit my bedroom I lost my connection with writing constantly. I was a full blown teenager with a new reason to be spiteful. I started wandering the woods and bulding fires. Amongst other things that burn and pop and go boom that I shouln't really mention because owning and setting off large fireworks out of season is a crime so you don't even want to mention making your own. But we were 16. what the hell else we were gonna do?
My parents had to be a little happy. I had more than the ONE friend finally. But damn if playing Halo all day wandering the woods and the neighborhood streets with the “weirdoes” from the LAN party at night and kinda of just being loud mischievous fucks didn't take away from being a focused individual. It's not that I wonder where I'd have ended up if not for having my focus shifted from being able to write all the time to making friends that aren't on the internet, but at times I can tell that it's the divergent path. I escaped losing my home online by making a new home in the streets of a lower middle class suburb. I was 17, and I hadn't started smoking anything yet.
And that's about where things go of the rails. Not truly, but there was no one at the head of the train keeping things on any sort of correct course. I'd Hijacked myself. And things were heading for worse.
This is the part that I mostly circle around in my interview with Nate. In a toxic relationship with the first girl I slept with in my senior year. My friends and I start experimenting with harder drugs and never move from our hometown. By the time we are 20 we are sleeping in garags and on porches or underneath suburban overpasses. I'd wander back to my mom's house on occasion sleep in a bed every once in a while, but at this point I was escaping the world outside wholly. I was 20, I had barely made it out of school, didn't go to college, and was wasting my young mind on being nothing. Seeking oblivion the way the moth seeks the moon.
Since then, 10 years now, and for at least 6 of them i've been off the shit and enjoying my time. A lot of my fears are tied into how much time I wasted by being so fucked up and not workign or writing or existing for most of my 20s, and how in that time the world moved on without me. Reconciling the fact that the odd little boy who loved words and dreamed of one day being a popular writer has seen one day turn to some day turn to tomorrow turn to today, and suddenly all at once one day has past and you're a grown man with the fact that one day can still be in my future. If I can rub a magic lamp and work hard at it, and make myself noticed.
The Bonus Hours was built as a space for myself, and those who I saw trapped by economic circumstance and brain chemistry to create their way out of it. Perhaps I am just screaming into the void. Perhaps we all are and always have been.
When I was 16 the ability to use your creativity and a camera or microphone as a tool to further a career in the arts wasn't readily available to my hands. When it was more available, and I should've been in college learning how to use it, I was lost in the wilderness facing down nightmares of the cosmos to bring back stories of the strange and wonderful to people whom i'm still looking for. Now, I'm 30 and trying to build things from whatever scrap I can lay my hands on. A grand pirate ship to make escape across the digital waves. A flamboyant crew of artists and performers at my side. I'm escaping from the hellworld that is being droped at my feet, by being creative again, and it feels like being home.
If Home is a place where people with far more power money and influence are wielding life and death decisions in yelling voices while you listen to the same album on repeat and furiously type for days on end. Then yeah, it feels like being home again.
Things have gone wrong out on our journey, and I've not been coping in the best ways. In fact, I've been handling it like an escape artist would. I'm shirking my responsibilites to this show escaping what happened on the way back Home by playing Morrowind for days on end.
Just like with all great escapes it is a self fulfilling stunt to find myself again, somewhere out in the wilds. When I regain myself I shall return with stories of adventure and loss. Till then –