My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Jul 12

Diving Bell: The Interactive Experience

Category: Life

So, it’s been kind of an odd experience being social post-trache. Honestly, at the beginning the entire prospect of making new friends and keeping old ones seemed really difficult. At 27, I was pretty used to talking. I always used to be fairly socially self-conscious, internally far more than outwardly. I’d run everything by my little internal censor thirty times, then he’d run it by a committee of nuns, then if everything passed I’d say it. I also had this problem with my jaw getting tight, which definitely made me feel awkward sometimes. Still, I was talking, which seemed better than not talking. However, when life goes really insane, you either adapt or break. I’m adapting more than breaking. Though, I’ve broken enough too.

Well, Tuesday, I decided I’d go meet an old high school friend for drinks at Starbucks, we started talking again through the magic of Facebook. Lately I’m oddly compelled to catch up with people I knew back then, though it’s a little hard to explain why. Like I said, I was pretty reserved back then, and I had a great deal of social and general anxiety that kept me from doing a lot. Today, however, I’m not afraid anything that used to scare me, I’m sure as Hell not afraid to talk to people. I suppose almost dying a bunch of times, a little drug addiction, some hard drinking and a lot of brilliant sex changes a fellow’s perspective. I guess I want people to know I’m not that quiet kid who got lots of A’s, but didn’t really talk to people. At any rate, I invited Priscilla for coffee, which ended up being steamed chocolate soy and tea.

So, I start off by making a few spectacular decisions. I pick the busiest Starbucks in the area at 5 PM, a time during which it’s guaranteed to rain torrentially. We pull into the parking lot and on cue, the sky promptly opens up and rain begins to fall. Flashes of lightning result in instant and astonishingly loud claps of thunder. It’s probably like what Noah saw right before things went really wrong. So, my assistant, Sarah (with an H), and I get fairly damp hoofing it inside. Since I haven’t seen Priscilla in over half a decade, I decide to go all out and bring along my travel computer and my switch in order to converse via the wonders of technology. The thing is, I don’t actually take my computer out much socially. It’s a lot to carry, I can’t move around and use it, and if my hand isn’t warm enough I can’t use my switch, which makes the computer useless anyway. Taking a computer and feeling the need to take a computer everywhere is a struggle for me. I find that if who I’m with is willing to talk via the alphabet, I have a much more relaxed time. It’s nice to be able to take a break from typing, from being tethered to so much technology. It’s nice to just go somewhere and not worry about having to use my switch, not having to worry about my hand being too cold to type anything. Really, I don’t like the idea that without a computer I’m completely fucked, it’s unsettling having to totally rely on technology just to have a conversation or to say that I can’t breathe. Going out and having a good time, feeling safe without a computer is truly freeing. I learned that from my Sara. We can go anywhere, have spectacular conversations and not be tied to technology. Still, using the alphabet is different for everyone. Some people still can’t get used to it, the potential slowness, the initial awkwardness. Intellectually, I understand it, but it’s discouraging sometimes. I can’t talk to my brother when we go out, he still can’t get used to my third language. Thus, my plan was to sit outside, away from the air conditioning, to chat digitally with Priscilla. 

Of course, with the torrential downpour, we’re inside. It’s ice-cold because of a state law that demands all Florida buildings to be hyper air-conditioned from April to October and we’re relegated to one tiny table because nobody wants to sit in the rain, but nobody wants to go home either. Also, I’m rather damp, making my hand extra cold. The computer is useless. Now, some months ago, I would have been pretty mortified. I’d have assumed that Priscilla would be bored and hate me. I’d have wished I’d stayed home. Fortunately, that me died, probably after the last trache change. Seriously, sitting there in the freezing cold Starbucks, the lights flickering after cracks of lightning, all I’m thinking is, “Holy Christ, this is going to be fun to write.”

Priscilla arrives and Sarah explains that my hand is really cold, so I can’t use the computer, but we can still talk using the alphabet. Unlike many, Priscilla catches on quickly. She takes over of my fancy pen, and my little notebook, we don’t have to translate through Sarah. I should explain, talking with the alphabet involves a person saying each letter of the alphabet and me signaling with my eyebrows when to stop at a particular letter. Then, each letter gets written down in a notebook. I have a ridiculously decadent forty-five dollar pen, because if I have to do something so absurd, I should have a really nice pen. It ends up, at least from my perspective, being a really nice evening. I want to tell her, “it’s Diving Bell, the Interactive Experience!” But I don’t. It’s a lot of letters and I’m not certain she’s even seen The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It’s a joke I let slip. Interestingly, we end up meeting a woman who saw me on TAL and was quite “inspired” by me, convinced that I’d be really excited about “accessible playgrounds,” and a professor from my stint in design school. He was absolutely certain I’d done a spectacular project on jazz in the roaring 20s and I totally said I remembered, but the closest I’ve ever come to the roaring 20s is dressing as a zombie flapper for Halloween. Still, it’s much easier to let him remember my project. 

I had a good time, I’m pretty sure Priscilla had some fun, and I definitely got something to write. 

6 comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Ormolu July 12th, 2008 8:03 am

    I wonder sometimes how you feel about being an inspiration. Because you are, as many have noted (including myself).

    And I can completely understand about high school shyness. I had undiagnosed social anxiety all through my youth. Gads, I’m glad I desensitized myself to that eventually.

    Glad to hear that you had a wonderful visit with an old friend! 🙂

  2. MagnoliaFly July 12th, 2008 8:10 am

    Priscilla is so awesome 🙂 I was hoping I’d see her last night but she was in South Tampa doing something. It is such a small world – I’ve known her for a little under a year (when she started dating one of my friends). I had no idea you guys went to school together. -Katie Ringo

  3. Nathan Herman July 12th, 2008 5:36 pm

    “ccessible playgrounds”… hahaha! Because 27 year old guys ALWAYS rock accessible playgrounds.

    Interesting idea, however.

  4. michael July 13th, 2008 1:30 am

    Priscilla’s definitely awesome…

    Nathan, I’ll have you know that I rode seven accessible merry-go-rounds at seven separate accessible playgrounds just yesterday.

  5. Nathan Herman July 15th, 2008 12:36 am

    I guess I have seriously been missing out… damn.

  6. A July 27th, 2008 8:21 pm

    Hi, I just saw your episode of TAL and was poking around you blog some. The internet is an amazing thing! I was just curious if you’d seen/played with Dasher at all? http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/

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