20 September, 2012

Lazy Blog Title or I Mention Malebolge In This Blog




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Lazy Blog Title or I Mention Malebolge In This Blog
9.20.12



This should be my first weekend off in a long time. I quit the cover band in which I was playing, and (as far as I know) their new bass guy is taking over on Saturday. It's been quite a long time since the last I had a consecutive Thursday, Friday, and Saturday without dragging my giant amp into a shitty bar, playing garbage music for drunk people nine years younger than me, and then schmoozing around and pretending like I care about what the drunks are saying. It's a tough job especially when you don't drink. Think about the most irritating woo girl you've ever seen at a bar, raising her Miller Lite and taking shots of Swedish fish and yelling along to the words of "Call Me Maybe." Now fill an imaginary bar with clones of that woo girl, and multiply that by every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for several years. Yeah; you'd quit too.

There are some things in life that we can't quit. Ugh, that sounds like an awful romantic comedy line at the beginning of the third act when you think the broad and the dude are going to finally make it work, and then she brings up some shit about his character that he's not willing to change and she says, "I know there are some things in life that we just can't quit; for me? It's you." And for some reason it's raining and some shitty pop rock song starts playing and he has to go figure himself out before they can be together but then she finds someone else and he realizes that he's lost something important so now he has to go work twice as hard to prove to the broad that he's the guy she really wants. Or some such shit. Let's start this blog again.

Being able to change our aesthetic through modification is a wonderfully and beautifully mentally liberating experience. Whether it's tattoo mod, piercing, bifurcation, scarring, plastic surgery, liposuction, or even nail polish, face paint, and hair dye. We tend to use the modifications to help our body's eye coincide with our mind's eye. We beautify, on the whole. Though there are those who choose to use modification not to beautify, but rather to express a sort of Homo Habilis (or more accurately Neanderthal) type of war paint symbolism of violent accomplishment. And of course my Habilis and Neanderthal references were of early man's societal systems and not a commentary on current sapiens' intelligence. But you smart kids knew that. I'm talking about gang mods, and specifically a story I just read that speaks to the gravity modifications can have.

There is a kid in Florida (whose name was not in the article I read because he is still a teen) who has bounced around foster care and shelters. I guess they don't call them orphanages anymore. But the dude bounced around foster families, having difficulty nailing down what they call a 'forever family.' So he goes back into care, then to a family, back to care. The whole thing. Which, by the by, reminds us that we have our own youth to care about too, so Hollywood types should keep that in mind when they start shopping for kids overseas. The kid is well spoken, polite, and has firmly shifted his focus to life goals, success, and helping others. From what did he shift? Gangs. He has tattoo modifications on his face displaying his allegiance to the gang group, though he has moved on from the lifestyle. But his shifting focus isn't the heartwarming part of the story, even though heartwarming things make me ill. No, it's about his facial gang mods and how they are being removed to help his future.

The family services people launched an initiative called "Partners For Promise." What they do is reach out to the community and ask them to give time and resources to help these kids who are looking for a life outside of the orphanages. So people volunteer, businesses provide services and money, and they gather useful resources to further a positive future for the bastards (which I mean as affectionately as possible). A fine program which seems to be working. So the kid gets paired up with fosters who seem to be a good lock. They want to blast away the gang tattoos on his face. The problem is that most tattoo removal places (if not all) consider tattoo removal as an elective, cosmetic procedure, which means insurance doesn't cover it. Not even universal healthcare, you entitled little socialists. But the private sector and the generosity of strangers hold the answers. The Winter Park Laser and Anti-Aging Center has become part of the child services' Partners For Promise program and stepped up to get the kid the laser treatments he needs to get the gang shit off of his face so he can begin to remanufacture his life.

Strange that I would support mod removal? I don't think so. Mod removal in its own way is a modification, and a pretty badassed one too. I am in support of modification as celebration of the aesthetic self. I support modification as a manipulation of self in its purest form. But what I more support is the management of memory and using memory as a betterment to the self rather than an albatross which pulls us with the weight of our id to places unwelcomed and bereft of usefulness. Our tattoo mods, and other mods as well, tie us to memory in some way. Even if the mod itself isn't directly reflective of a specific file in the card catalog of memories we store, it ties to a time and an event. 'I got this mod when' is a sentence we all have said at some point. I got this mod when my dad died, I've heard. I got this when my baby was born. I got this when I graduated college. (None of which applies to my life, ironically.) The mod may not be a dead dad, a baby face, or a square hat, but it is tied to that memory forever because of the timespace in which it existed. It is an artifact of the past whose magnetism creates a time travel to a moment. Some of these moments, upon reflection, are grim or demanufacturing to the self we'd like to be, to the self we idealize to ourselves as time moves incessantly and irreversibly forward. The management of these memories and the artifact triggers of them are vitally important to who we are and what we are choosing to become. Spoken like a true post traumatic stress patient, right? My shrink would be proud, though I'm not 100% on board with her assessment that I'm PTSD. I think I'd be more on board if it were still called Battle Fatigue. That sounds cooler. But we're not talking about my malwired brain.

The kid is having his face mods removed, and when completed, his past will become a different thing. It won't disappear; none of our pasts can dissolve into the ether, but it will change into something. Instead of a regret or a woesome scripture of who we are, it changes into a character changing and motivating time pointing us to what we will become. If we let it, of course. It is easy to allow memories to flay our lives and negatively manipulate our behaviors and relationships. Ask my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend about what my memories have done to our life together. But we can choose to change, to modify our perceptions of our memories in order to benefit the future selves we wish to become or as whom we are striving to stay. Like the orphan teen kid. He is changing his past by allowing it to stay the same, simply because it must, but he's changing his remembrance of it. Instead of looking at the mod and remembering what he may have done or the time associated with the mod, he can look at its absence and remember those same times as an experience that is now shaping a new perception of hope and goodness. Pretty wild stuff.

As I realize that the point of this rant has gotten away from me a little, I have come to attach myself to the idea that memories can do things to us. We can let memories supply us the bricks with which to build our walls, or we can use those same bricks to build a road to the hope of our selves. It's soul crushing at times, but along that road we build, on the other side of the Frozen City, there is hope and love and light. We just have to pass the circles of Malebolge, climb the fur of Satan, and reach our hands out to the angel Beatrice and know that we deserve to take it. How hard can that be? Dante and Virgil did it. Stay beautiful, kids.




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