sept 7: back at vassar now. next week I'll be back in the swing. aug 24: I hate to leave this piece up too much longer. but I'm not going to be able to update next week either, cause I have to move back east again. but GAZEBO is now in print, featuring one of the two stories i had up on my page but took down a few months ago. (excerpts from the other are available below.) and if you can run JavaScript, check out this thing i've been working on and let me know how it works for you. thanks.

aug 17: sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry SORRY. hey, I'm supposed to be on vacation here. actually this piece is starting to embarrass me, so I'll have something up next week if for no other reason. GAZEBO going to press in a couple of days.

aug 10: so it's friday night, and I've blown the whole day on a photo shoot with Aubie. plus the marathon games. nothing really in the oven right now anyway. concentrating on GAZEBO (see below) and artwork. so check the previous tales, and I'll be doing a new top 50 soon.

august 3 1996: fat & happy

ne night last year Gretchen told everyone at the dining hall table about the dream she kept having, a happy dream about being pregnant: "I wasn't working, I just had a husband and I was walking around the house all day with this big huge belly and a big smile on my face, just... fat 'n' happy." And it got me to thinking about my old life, before I became a nerd in recovery, and how there were really quite a lot of moments where I didn't mind my body at all, like sitting on my skateboard at the top of the hill that my brother and I and some of our friends had found, all of us getting ready to roll down again making 10 MPH or so, and slam the soles of our shoes down on the pavement to stop ourselves and our boards before entering the intersection at the bottom; we had just shot the hill once and hiked back up, and the higher intersection we started from was quiet and sunlit on a weekend afternoon as we prepared to push off again and roll down the tree-shaded hill. We prepared ourselves calmly up at the top, chatting like the sportsmen on TV about the last run, some of us standing with board dangling in one hand, and some, like me, already down on the ground sitting on their boards, in the middle of the street like horses at the gate, maybe leaning back now and then to pop up the board's nose, swivel, and reposition. I waited for them, leaning forward, my elbows on my knees, butt squarely on the non-grip-taped part of the board about two-thirds back, rocking the board forward and backward a foot or so with my feet on the ground and my belly bunching up between my legs. It all felt good for a change. I was too big and too tall to really fit sitting down on a skateboard - my knees stuck out to the sides when I brought my feet up onto the board after pushing off. But even though I couldn't stand up I loved to shoot hills, and I loved to be out doing something physical and easy, with friends, rocking back and forth waiting to begin, being fat and happy.

back to the present...

I mention this now because this week I had another one of those weird nights when it seemed obvious that I'd never get anyone to love me, I was a total socioromantic failure, and my only hope was to sign up with a gym pronto, the next morning even. That's the conclusion I always wind up with when my self-hate levels are at their peak. I was up until about 5 in the morning - threw my internal clock way off - failing to sleep, wandering around the very room in which I took my bio-page head shot a year ago, eventually storming out for a sanity walk around town. Even when I'm in the midst of one of these things, I know that the next morning I will feel much better, so of course I won't wind up re-dedicating myself to fitness or doing anything else that I decide on at 3 AM. Sometimes I even manage to note to myself that I've had these tantrums before and I'll have them again, and that they're nothing to be ashamed or proud of, but just a normal part of being a half-grownup. But they're interesting. I ought to do a better job of keeping track of what brings them on and why, and how the chain of thinking goes.

I guess my pages don't make it obvious that I'm out of shape. The picture on the bio page is just my head (and I've lost more hair since then), and that prom picture I ran a while ago actually makes me look a little Stalloneish (yipe). But a lot of the rest of the time I look a little freakish. This is perhaps just my opinion; I don't go around expecting others to give me their honest views on the matter, though.

The point is that lately (within the past year) I've actually started to notice when I have the opposite of one of these episodes; that is, when I am out in the sun headed down the street for Berkeley, or bumming around my room or a bookstore or wherever, and I suddenly think, "I am perfectly content right now. There isn't a bone in my body that thinks it needs a girlfriend. Conditions in my life are ideal right now, and I am very grateful." Usually I'm alone when these moments happen, but not always. And usually when it happens, I feel pretty at home in my body. If the right kind of girl goes by it can upset my mental balance a bit, but nothing drastic.

I know that getting thin, if it were to magically happen, wouldn't solve all my social problems. I also know that if I started on a good fitness program it would probably become its own reward in many ways. The reason I don't just go ahead and start working out someplace is basically fear. Gyms are social places, and I don't want to do anything wrong. Nothing. I want to be an invisible, perfect cog in the 24 Hour Nautilus machine. But I don't know any protocol, and regrettably, it appears that "Exercise For Dummies" has not been published yet. (Perhaps if all the other books in the series enjoy continued success, all the Dummies out there will become sedentary mouse potatoes and forget all their old apres-office workout routines, and the market for "Exercise For Dummies" will suddenly materialize.) This desire of mine is of course totally irrational, but I can't shake it yet. Fourth grade P.E. dies hard.

This is neither the time or the place to go into all my methods of women-obsessing or my psychological problems in detail, so, since I'm not filling in all that background, this probably all sounds sketchy, if not totally obvious and boring. (But there's something else I do a lot in these pages: I apologise a lot for, er, stating the obvious. I ought to stop apologizing, because it really is a conscious, political choice for me to talk about obvious shit. Sometimes I tell people "nothing is obvious," meaning that you can never count on another person to have the same frames of references as you and know what you're talking about. So I like to talk about obvious things, for the benefit of other people like me who are always told to get a clue but never told where to get one.) It may also make no sense at all, since I'm not explaining everything that lies behind these attitudes. For further development, I can offer some chunks from a story I had up for a while but then took down. They may help clarify some things.

Aubie told me that my real problem is just that I'm too generally odd to make a good first impression in any kind of romantic context, so I wind up classified as "friend" all the time. I'm glad he told me this, but I don't really know what to make of it either way. I read, more recently, that someone claims to have isolated a gene for novelty - that is, whether you like finding new things or doing things the same old way, culturally speaking, may be genetically determined. There have been many times in my life when I've believed that you were either born knowing what was going on in the world, how to adapt socially and relate with other people, or you weren't. The wallflower gene. Who knows?

And another part of this is that someone called me attractive lately, right out of the blue - something that doesn't happen to me very often. It happened in public, on the Web, but I won't point because it turns out that the public part was an accident. You might have found it already. Nothing really to say about that - as with many people who contact me about my pages, I'm sorta conversing with her now over email and we're admiring each other's work. But that sort of thing is nice; which is also an obvious thing to say. Oh well.

in other news...

Aha, I'm on time, sort of! Sorry there's no graphics again. When I started doing Tales, the idea was that all the daily or weekly essay pages out there update on weekdays, and those who surf on weekends have nothing new to look at, so there should be some things that update on Saturdays and Sundays. In fact I was thinking for a while about getting friends together to do a full-scale Suck-like magazine that would only update on Saturdays and Sundays (so if there were eight of us, we'd each only have to write one piece a month). But anyway, now I never start writing the thing in earnest until Friday night, leaving most of it to finish Saturday, so it don't wind up actually getting online until Monday half the time. Sometimes it just seems like there's no use fighting, doesn't it?

In a couple of weeks, GAZEBO #1 will be going to press. GAZEBO compiles some of the web page writings of myself, Aubie, and Suze, as well as some new material by Aneesa and a bunch of original reviews, into a tasty print-zine format. We'll be distributing it in comic shops and independent bookstores around Berkeley, at least. Hopefully we'll have it ready for the Kill Zinesters events in SF and/or Berkeley. Then once I get back to school it might find its way to Manhattan, but no promises. You can get most of it on the Web, but hey, it's gonna be fabulous in its own right and it makes a swell gift for unwired friends! To order, send $2 cash to GAZEBO, 1 Familiar Path, c/o 516 Pomona, Albany CA 94706.

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Tales From The Dork Side are copyright Mike Sugarbaker, email for permission to redistribute.
Updated August 3 1996