06 April, 2011

Two Roads Divulged In A Hospital Room

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com. Mail sent directly to Mystic Metals will not be read.

Two Roads Divulged In A Hospital Room


I just interrupted the writing of one blog to start this blog. Why? Well, the first was kind of shitty, and it’ll probably be one of those articles you guys will never see. Of which I have tons and tons. But this article is coming out now, so we’re going to write this one. Thanks to Jenny for steering me in this direction.

What we are and what we do, what we’d like to be and what we will become. Things that steer us, things that guide us, things that force us. What we would be if. What we would do if. What we are because. Modification has become a thing that is part of the definition of me. It is a thing that has become intrinsic to my description to a stranger. The guy with the piercings. A defining characteristic. If you are one of my modded readers, you have that quality as well. You are the dame with the sleeve, or the cat with the septum. A point in your reality came when you decided to be this thing, this culture. You steered yourself, helmed you life’s ship toward an inlet wherein all types of people from different corners of the world have congregated with a similar view towards beauty and self. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a beautiful thing. But what if it weren’t a thing at all.

Making the decision to be modified is a very big choice, assuming that you treat the culture with as much respect as it deserves. You are part of a collective now, a group of individually minded people who exhibit their love of art and self and beauty through modification. You decided to do that. You made the choice and accepted the repercussions that tether themselves to the responsibility. You with the stretched lobes. You with the full sleeves. You with pockets, the dermal, the bifurcated tongue. There is no point of no return, but some of us are damned close. And we chose this, and love every minute of it.

How did we arrive at that decision? What guided our hand toward this beautiful culture? Where would your life be without modification, or anything that you may have subscribed to. Myself? I am unsure entirely. I know there was a point of curiosity which became a point of interest which became a point of education which became a point of execution. But before all of that, in the first memory, the first point of remembrance. In the hospitals, there were two paths. One was pity of self, dripping and filled with waste and disinterest of betterment. The other path was ownership, responsibility, and moving forward.

For those who don’t know, I have spina bifida. My legs hurt. Constantly. Pain that causes me to throw up everyday. Pain that sometimes blurs my vision. Pain that dictates my moods and points of view. When I was younger, I spent time in doctors’ offices, hospitals, standing naked beneath a paper gown while an old man in spiced cologne took tongue depressors and needles and scraped every inch of my skin to see where it hurt more. Tests to see things hidden by skin and shame. None of the doctors ever solved anything, and most only implanted a skewed sense of self within my young point of view, which became a bitter point of view, which became a hateful one, which became an apathetic one. I left most of my hope and pride in Children’s Hospital, in Jefferson Hospital, in Cooper Medical, in Doctor Brill’s office.

How to take ownership of what was left? My disability took from me many things, including a scripted future. If I weren’t disabled, I’d have gone to college. I wouldn’t be a bass player. I wouldn’t be modified. I’d likely not be a writer. And now those things, the bass playing, the writing, the modification have all become such an entrenched part of my reality. Because of my disability, or to spite it? I hate my body. I have always hated it. I will always hate it, but I modify it which in turn draws attention to it. Because of or in spite of? Strange to draw attention to something that has caused me so much ill feeling.

Modification has given me back ownership of my carbon meat bag. So in that way, because of my disability, I am modified. Yet I maintain a sense that my body has been usurped from me by the behaviors of other people, so I modify to show that it is indeed beautiful. So in that way, in spite of my disability, I am modified. So which is it. Because of or in spite of? Does it matter. I have arrived at a comfort in modification as a result of things beyond my control. If things were different, then things would be different now; but does entertaining what ifs and maybes serve any purpose, serve any positivity, serve any gain?

We live in a society that dwells on what isn’t rather than what is. We only dwell on what is when our focus is what isn’t. We only care that a person is modified when he can’t get a job. The ‘is’ is the modification, the ‘isn’t’ is the joblessness. I only care that I am disabled when I can’t stand for a concert at the Trocadero Theatre. The ‘is’ is my disability, the ‘isn’t’ is the standing. Modification, however, has brought some of those isn’t’s to is’s. My body has always been an is, and what I wanted to do has always been an isn’t. Modification has taken some of those little isn’t’s, and helped me to see them as a different kind of is.

How much beauty is drawn to the tiny and inconsequential parts of you. All by modification. The same with pain, I suppose. How quickly you remember that the jaw is the most used bone in the body only after you’ve had your jaw wired shut. (Been there.) In terms of modification, how pedestrian and forgettable is the downturn of an eyebrow, the dimple below the bottom lip, the nape of the neck, the flat and unremarkable skin of the sternum. But then we modify, and suddenly a beauty springs from a nothing. An isn’t becomes an is with a tiny, valueless piece of steel. A part of your body at which you’d never look otherwise has become a wealth of pride, of comfort, of beauty. A celebration of things that go unseen. Are you glad you are here now? Or would you rather experiment with the notion of what would be if this happened or that happened. If you didn’t divorce. If you didn’t move across the country for whatever reason. If you studied dentistry instead of photography. If you became a model and not a biologist. If you chose to hate instead of love. If you didn’t let the one that got away go free. If you didn’t keep your opinion to yourself that one time. If you went to school. If you kept playing guitar. If you told her how you really felt. These things you chose, would you change them? If you did, would you have arrived where you are now? One joke between a friend and me is that if I weren’t disabled, I’d have a doctorate in something by now. Is that the life I want? To compromise what isn’t for what is, or rather, how can I determine that an isn’t is actually an ought to be?

Regardless of what could be versus what is, you are beautiful. I am beautiful. Every stranger that passes through your space is beautiful, and that is a thing that will always be an is. We modify, I modify as a way to share my beauty; it is a way for me to take ownership of my decrepit carbon meat bag, and prove to others, and myself, that my beauty will always be an is. Stay beautiful, kids.

Join me on

Also, follow my late night, Ambien tweets at

1 comment:

  1. Good read to accompany my current insomnia...although I would have rather it been without the feeling that followed. Maybe it's a reminder of what I forget.