Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm An Alien

Note: I started this a couple of months ago.  I decided to finish it today.

Last night I posted up the following:

I went down memory lane for a bit in that moment which brought up another memory as well:

Ah yes -  Halen's 1984 - one of the most seminal records from my early youth.  When I wasn't jumping, panamaning, or being hot for teacher, I was break dancing on linoleum floors and polished concrete foryers.  I absolutely was enthralled by the videos on MTV and thought they were the quintessential rock band of all time (which they were).

Another memory from 1990 popped into my mind shortly after the post.  My buddy had "Live: Right Here, Right Now" Van Halen record featuring singer Sammy Hagar.  I, for one, was a David Lee Roth fan because of my loyalty to what I had seen on MTV as a kid and never really got into "Van Hagar".  However, they did try a couple of songs off the 1984 record so I was willing to listen to just how inferior Sammy's version was to DLR's.  Not being satisfied with the live version, I decided to grab my crunchy cassette copy 1984, rewound the tape tightly within its spindles, and pressed play.

The first track came on aptly titled "1984" - an armada of synthesizers tracked on top of each of other making all kinds of lush bleeps, bloops, and wongs in harmonious fashion.  I was so moved by this track being so futuristic sounding (even in 1990), a light bulb went off in my head.  I looked at my best friend square in the eye and in no uncertain fashion told him, "We're going to start a band.  We're going to get a couple of synths and play this song!"  I had absolutely no doubt in my mind a band would made.  My friend went along with me on this assertion half-heartedly, but I was so convinced of achieving my goal that if he decided to start faltering on supporting my dream to make this Van Halen synth cover band a reality, I would force him into conforming.  That very week, I got a cheap Casio keyboard and started learning the song by ear even though I had no idea how to actually play it fathfully.

Leadership By Design Or By Default

That band starting memory triggered a whole bunch of earlier memories.  I remembered how in 4th grade I was appointed as an officer of our "patrols" crew as Lieutenant (2nd in charge).  In 5th grade, they promoted me to Captain.  I took a sh*tload of pride in knowing I was in charge of making sure kids actually wore their bright orange patrol belts, helmets, and got the responsibility of raising the Texas and US flags on the prominently featured flag pole in front of the school.

In 6 & most of 7th grade, I was an absolutely horrible trumpet player.  Then half way through 7th grade, I finally figured out how to play my trumpet well.  I then quickly moved form last chair to being almost first.  Then in 8th grade, I was first chair all year.

In high school, I was 3rd chair my freshman year and then became 1st chair for the rest of high school.  I started as a regular band member my freshman year, then became section leader, line leader, and eventually the drum major.  I was also the president of the computer club, the consul of our Latin club, on the student council, and a better-than-average student (I wasn't an all AP student or anything but I was pretty good academically)

In college, I was the president (or webmaster) of the local chapter of ACM (memory's a little foggy), lead a series of bands, and was a lead developer at a local computer business.  

In my current every day life, I am in no particular order a lead IT architect, lead developer, project manager, artistic director, producer, writer, videographer, recording artist, graphic artist, husband, and a father.

Fitting In

I spend a lot of time talking about high school.  It's effectively the crown jewel of everything I learned about social interactions and the measuring stick I use to see just how far I've grown.  I'm sure it looks like I peaked in high school (I probably did).

After taking inventory of all of these things I had done in life and never really thought twice about, I realized, "HOLY CRAP!  I've been in charge of my own things for almost my entire life!"  Many of those vaulted positions were not because I wanted to actively be in charge but because somebody had to be and I was many times the only one willing to do it.

I've never been down with "the cool kids".  Thinking back over the years, I've never been super popular; I made my own peer groups to get by.  High school was pretty traumatic when the group of friends I had my freshman and sophomore years decided to effectively go their own ways.  I truly thought we'd be BFFs in eternity.  After licking my wounds from a sense of abandonment,  I struck out my junior year on a perilous quest to find a new group - and floundered. I was adopted by a group of misfits, dorks, and geeks (who in hindsight I probably should've appreciated a lot more than I may had back in the day).  They took me in and friended me only to the point I would let them; I was a bit of a tool.  But by my senior year, I had figured out my coveted friend structure and put together a pretty good group of people to spend my remaining year in institutionalized learning.

I don't really talk a lot about fitting in college as I was pretty much a loner.  My goal was to get in and out as quickly as possible and move out-of-state.  The only life lessons I took away from college were:

  • fitting in would no longer be an issue for me as everybody was forced to make their own way in life.
  • my journey in defining who I was wasn't over but it was in a way a lot easier.  Without depending on friends to tell me who I was, I was forced to define who I was to myself.  This is something I continue to do every day.

I Am An Alien
While looking around at my peers, colleagues, family, and friends, I feel abnormal - where no matter what is accomplished, how it was done, or how it was perceived, it's always different than how everyone would've/should've/could've done it.  I can't shake that feeling.  I'm sure it's a sign that serious therapy is needed, but I seem to be doing fine without it (for now).

I'm a Mork.  The world's a Mindy.  We'll make the best of it.

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