Aside from sucking my thumb, the first regular activity I remember doing for the sheer feeling of it was flicking my finger across the end of a satin edge of a yellow blanket when I was one or two years old. The satin edge was a stitched piece of satin design with a typical perforated ruffle sewn at the end of many cotton/wool blankets. Somehow, I randomly discovered joy from holding a couple inches of the satin perforated ruffled end between my thumb and forefinger of my left hand, and then striking the centimeter length part of the satin edge that stuck out between those fingers with the forefinger of my right hand. I loved the feeling that tickled the underside of the tip of my right forefinger as I flicked that satin edge. I was fascinated by the relative stiffness of the satin, as it would bend back into position after I flicked it downward. It was this soft stiffness, a kind of torque that tickled my finger. I would alternate between flicking it slow and then unmercifully fast mesmerized by both the blur of the edge snapping back into place and the almost painful ache it gave the tip of my finger. The edge, however, would ultimately lose its stiffness and become flimsy, which did not please my finger. This would be disappointing until I would discover a new stiffer part of the satin design further down the edge of the same blanket. That part would then eventually lose its stiffness and the cycle would continue until ultimately with all the flicking and moving down the blanket, the stitching would weaken and the satin edge totally came off.
It became a compulsion. Until I was about five, my supplemental ritual to just zone out while lying down or watching television was to play with my satin edge. By the time I grew out of the habit I went through about three different blankets with satin edges. While each blanket had its warmth, it was always the edge I was after. Each blanket suffered the fate of losing the stitching of its satin edge from my merciless flicking. If a blanket did not become fully separated from its satin edge, by the time I was done with it, it would be only be hanging on by a few stitches. And mot every satin edge had the same feel. While I remember the second one, a blue one being adequate, I’ll never forget the feel of that first yellow blanket and its yellow satin edge. My mom quickly discovered that the threat of taking away my satin edge was often an effective way to encourage my good behavior during my toddler years.
This satin edge story is probably a good metaphor of how I have approached most creative pursuits in my life – to the extreme. Arguably the childhood epilepsy contributed to my already hypercompetitive and sensitive temperament. Probably because the loss in time during my small “absence seizures”, contributed to the extreme defensiveness when things did not go my way. Since coming out of those short absence seizures I noticed the subtle and sometimes not so subtle shift of things around me that can happen within a number of seconds or a minute, I most likely started this pattern of assuming that other people often conspired against me, especially my peers who I saw as fellow competitors for adults’ attention. A common phrase I cried or mopingly exclaimed to my parents after a failed play date, or awkward interactions with kids in school or on my block was, “Nobody likes me! Everybody hates me!” Until I was on Tegretol, My mom often came up with the saying that I would cry if anybody looked at me “cross-eyed”. This was not a good trait to have for starting an early, positive social life. Many kids on my block called me a crybaby and the like. However, because of the isolation and loneliness I often found a lot of comfort fully throwing myself into creative and artistic tasks and hobbies and often in extreme ways.
It was these tasks that I found comfort in my self worth. At first, perhaps because of my satin edge experience, I loved doing activities working with my hands. I would spend hours building space ships, robots, drawing pictures, buildings with my Legos, and making sculptures with clay. Sometimes I would mix and match, and clay would get into the spaces of my lego blocks. There was something very rewarding after noticing hours went by that I had a product right there in front of me in three dimensional space to show for it, that I could touch, smell manipulate and interact with. I would play for hours by myself making stories up with my action figures. Every story revolved around some kind of unexpected come back against the person in power. I often found myself playing the role of God or some deity, some all powerful being, that determined the fate of my action figure dolls. And even a few times I allowed myself to be conquered by an action figure only to have it cower in fear when I revived or came back to life to exact my revenge.
When it came to action figures, and legos, I often had more fun playing by myself because I did not have to play or differ to someone else’s opinion of how the story or fights should go, how things would be built. The only problem was that days would come when I was tired of my own stories and predictable outcomes. They got boring. I wanted friends. I wanted to share experiences and play with others, and not feel isolated by what I already knew. I felt lonely.
Table of Contents
Part I – My Material (Physically Having) History
- Chapter 1 – Race, Money, Fashion
- Chapter 2 – Plants, Pets, and Education
- Chapter 3 – Jobs
- Chapter 4 – Connections, Opportunities, Genetics
Part II – My Sensual (Feeling) History
- Chapter 5 – The Satin Edge
- Chapter 6 – Gifted, Hyper Competitive, and Overly Sensitive
- Chapter 7 – Puppy Love and Status
- Chapter 8 – Busy-ness as Salvation
- Chapter 9 – Karate and Self Image
- Chapter 10 – Homophobia and Musical Expression
- Chapter 11 – Digging a Pond, High School, and Music Camp
- Chapter 12 – Heterosexuality, Self Esteem, Avon Fashion
- Chapter 13 – The Opposite Game, College, and Sex
- Chapter 14 – Cruise Ships, Internet, and Control
- Chapter 15 – Saturn’s Return, Delayed Gratification, and Aging Dreams