Seeking Super: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: I Always Knew I Was Special

 

Another Friday afternoon bus ride home from work. Fifteen to twenty minutes spent in the olfactory stew of a cross section of the city’s population. It could be the end of any weekday– bumpy, cold and mostly silent. I could be anybody, except that I’m not– I’m the guy who’s screaming loudly in his mind.

I’m the guy covertly waiting for someone, anyone to wince.

I’m the guy who’s about to change everything.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


 

Everyone goes through that phase in their childhood where they feel that special connection to superheroes. We all cut up strips of fabric and poke holes in it for a mask. We all tie bedsheets to our back for capes.

Everybody does it.

Not me though.
I mean, I did do that, but then I realized something. It’s more than just the outfits. You don’t need an outfit if you’re just Clark Kent. I mean, if you’re content to be that. To be just a photo-journalist. Just Peter Parker. Just a bullied, curly haired, pasty skinned kid. Just Mike Wheatley.

I was still just Mike Wheatley though. Even in the best mask lined with the best glitter and a cape with little printed Millennium Falcons speeding up and down its billowing magnificence. Even if I could make the best ‘swoosh’ and ‘pow’ sound effects on the block. …I was still just me. ‘Little Mikey McWheatthin’ if you caught me before my growth spurt.

No one could fight crime and save the day with an alias like that lurking under their masks. Not without something cool like metalmancy to back it up. I wasn’t content with it. Not with my name or my hair or the fact that I got winded walking a mile. Not with the fact that grandmas still crossed the streets unassisted. Not with the knowledge that somewhere in the city, some other kid was counting my lunch money.

I would need more than the coolest cape, best mask, and above-average mouth noises to prevail over this level of evil.

So the rest of the kids could waste their time playing dress up. Me? I was going to spend my time finding my super power.

I meditated for days in my cave of silence. Thinking. Pondering. Planning. Tapping into the universe and asking for a message of purpose and power.

Mother always wanted me to stop for pedantic things like taking out the trash. Cleaning my room. Eating.

She never quite ‘got it’.

She never understood that there was an off chance I might be ‘Plant Man’…and in such a case would have no need for human food any longer. Just an open window and water.

Maybe I needed my messy room to discover I was Cameleon-Man or Trash-Guy. Did she ever think of that? Think that putting my socks away could have cost the world an amazing master of all things grimy and smelly? (Lucky for her, she’d never have that on her conscience. An experiment years later in college proved that idea a flawed one.)

Then one day as I was roused yet again from my research in the tomes written by the sages of Marvel, DC, and Image…it hit me. I was special… I always had been. It’s what I had intuitively known from that early age. The piece of myself I was missing. A life of being average was my kryptonite. It weakened me. Sapped my strength… And the longer I stayed immersed in it, the longer I would stay frail and helpless. The longer the world would go without the hero it needed.

I was special. Destined for greatness. I just had to devote a little more time and a lot more focus to figure out what my power was and how to access it.

I began work faster than any other fifth grader had ever set down homework before.

My first thought was manipulating fire.

My sweater caught before I did, and for a fleeting minute I thought that maybe my power was instead being fire resistant. (Oh how handy the men in red and yellow would find me! So many delicate damsels with singed faces would look up at me with tears of gratitude!)

My doctor later assured me that I was not.

A month of creams and bandages had me thoroughly convinced.

Next I felt that special tingling for aeronautics. Natural aeronautics. I could fly. I knew it. All walls became my perch. No window ledge was safe!

…I broke nearly every bone in my body save for my skull, spine, and toes.

(Whoever it was that invented steepled roofs should be hanged from one, in my opinion.)

Now, I still have no conclusive evidence that the bones that remained unbroken through that experiment aren’t somehow invincible, but after thinking it over, I hopes that’s not the case.

Designing a super-heroic name for that particular power would be such a headache.
“The Virtuous Vertebrae”?
“The Spectacular Spine”?

Both titles better suited to a chiropractor’s clinic than a prospective member of the Justice League.

Moving forward, I tried to manipulate other elements of course.
Ice manipulation? I got mild hypothermia.
Hydromancy? Pruny skin and a turtle bite. (I marked off animal communication there as well.)
Air bending? Wind burn.
My romp as the Master of all Granular Matter just ended with sand in places you don’t want to hear about and my potential power over static electricity left me with the worst bout of rugburn Southern Detroit had ever seen.

I wasn’t dissuaded though. Each try, each attempt, at least warded off that impending creep of the mundane. It kept the poison that was normalcy staved off for another month or week. It kept my power, whatever it was, fresh and waiting just under the surface.

Over the years, I yelled at mirrors. I stared at spoons. Once, I ate over 6 pounds of spinach in one night… Nothing.

Nothing.

As years marched forward, I found the time I was able to devote to my inevitable discovery more and more limited. Middle school was hard enough as mild mannered Mike, and high school…well the less said about high school the better.

No one wore capes or masks anymore by the time I was moving out and off to college, I’d learned that even the search for superheroism was an endeavor best kept concealed, covered-up, and very, very secret. Late nights and closed labs became my best friends until graduation.

My master plan of diving head first into the ranks of those who knew heroism better than anyone failed on tries 1-55. Argue as much as you like for one company over the other, but it seemed the one thing Marvel, DC, and Independent comics had in common was an absolute lack of interest in hiring me. (Apparently, there is such a thing as too much enthusiasm).

It was probably for the best though. I mean, how obvious would it be to have a hero writing his own stories? Too much of an inside edge. My nemesis would catch onto me, and that, undoubtedly would put my beloved girlfriend in danger. …Eventually. Once I got a nemesis.
…And a girlfriend.

Still other than ‘protector of the planet’ (or at least the state), nothing else interested me. I didn’t much care what I did, I just needed money for food and rent and time to spend doing what I actually gave a damn about.

As luck would have it, it seemed that’s exactly the attitude needed to obtain a desk job in over-the-phone customer service. It was as unobtrusive and seemingly unimportant a title as a secret identity could have gotten.

Fate works in mysterious ways.

After my job at customer service had me psychiatrically tested (I still don’t see what the big deal was. Taking 20 seconds out of a phone call to try remote viewing the person on the other end’s house is not a significant cost timewise, is it? What’s the last thing you did with 20 seconds?), I had to become a little more…introverted with my endeavors.

No more outlandish holidays to remote locations looking for power-charged treasures. No more weekend trips to the space museum to lay hands on the moon rocks.

Even with these cut backs, I still have to check in with Dr. Vorgeois weekly. It’s very difficult to convince a licensed therapist that you were kidding about wanting to be a super hero when he has a file with your complete medical history in it.

I can already feel the ‘normal’ seeping into my skin. Draining my power. Even now as I jiggle in the bus seat over yet another speedbump. I have to lay low until all this blows over.

You see, I’ve figured it out– ‘normalcy’ is my kryptonite. I have to avoid that trap, that complacency, at all costs.

I also have to avoid diagnoses that might land me in a padded room though, which makes my situation a precarious one and brings us right back to where we began.

Last week I felt my mind touch something…someone. Only for a moment along my bus route, but it was there as warm and real and awkward as accidently making hand to hand contact on the subway.

I’m still not sure if I’m telepathic, or if I happened to mentally bump into one, but it’s the best lead I’ve had.

I’ve been riding the bus a lot lately, screaming at the top of my brain and looking around for a response. Covertly eying the other passengers with the most subtlety I can manage. Sometimes I get caught. Sometimes I get a dirty look or someone scootches farther from me.

I know it’s worth it though…or at least I thought I did right up until Friday.

Friday when I closed my eyes and yelled a mental “Hello?!” to the telepath I knew was somewhere in this city.

Friday when a dozen or more voices screamed back in terror and my body went airborne before my eyes even had a chance to open.

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365 Grateful: Preface

Awhile back…

No, scratch that. More and more often in recent days I’ve seen links to projects like “100 Happy Days” and “365 Grateful” on social media sites and blogs alike.

Although I have a near pathological tendency to revile bandwagons and sprint in the opposite direction when too many people like something at once, I couldn’t bring myself to hate this trend.

It was beautiful because it was so pervasive but still so rare. It was amazing because it was so positive that it benefitted everyone involved. It hurt no one, but had a staggering potential to help everyone. Even at it’s poorest most base execution, it still shimmered.

Sure, if I looked hard enough, I could probably poke holes in it, but what was the point in that? Who could be curmudgeon enough to tear off a butterfly’s wings or retch on a sunset?

If you’ve clicked neither link, I’ll summarize: in both cases, participants are encouraged to, via one form or outlet or another, memorialize things for which they’re grateful/things that make them happy/things they find beautiful for a set number of days.

The result is an altered perspective and a heightened appreciation for life and all it’s blessings.

It really hit home a few days ago on my taxi ride back from chemo.

Comparatively, this was an easy one, but it left me tired and as I leaned my head against the cool of the car door a blossom of color caught my eye. As we sped back toward home, there was a little flower garden radiating a petaled rainbow of yellows and purples so verdantly and with such off-season splendor that it’s very existence seemed to hold up the mailbox sprouting from it.

mailboxI’d likely passed it numerous times before as it was on my walking route, but that day it was as though I saw it for the first time…and my Lord was it ever gorgeous.

There’s stuff like that all the time, of course– sometimes something visual, sometimes a fleeting moment that is all the more precious for it’s ephemeral nature. Sometimes something that brings a smile in the hard times or a tear in the good times or a laugh that just warms you from the very base of your spirit.

Everyday we are surrounded by these moments and taking that moment, that split second to recognize how good life is just might be that elusive key to happiness.

It’s so easy to live for survival or live to get by or get through. Easy to feel sorry for ourselves or to focus on this or that, him or her, tomorrow or weeks from now, what might or might not be…

All that stuff is toxic. Gratitude is lifegiving.

So to hell with the “I hate bandwagoning.” Sometimes something is just too good to not get on board. Starting on the first of 2014 and ending (or maybe going in for round 2, who knows?!) on the first of 2015, I will be participating in 365 Grateful/Happy.

~all the love~

Holiday Handbag Cuticle Oil by butter London is One Slick Product

ButterI’ve now received two different samples from Butter and have been pleased with both. Having already liked the first polish I received, I was all set to like whatever lay inside the second fashionably squared bottle that came in the mail.

The back label reads: “Fun memories for you, intensive nourishment for your cuticles. This cocktail of vitamin and natural oils smells great, works even better. Mineral oil free.”

So I really don’t have the foggiest idea what’s in it.

What I do know is that it certainly keeps it’s promise of a pleasing scent.

Moreover, a little of this oil goes a long way…and on more than just your nails! When I first applied it, the feeling reminded me of a dry oil spray I love…and so it occured to me that it might feel nice on my winter parched hands.

One try and I was sold- a single swipe from the nail brush applicator is enough to cover front and back of both hands without feeling greasy or leaving a lingering shine. It’s quick to absorb, smells amazing, and leaves skin feeling supple and hydrated.

My real love for this product though is it’s more…cerebral application. That is, if you happen to be sporting a chromedome this stuff quickly does away with dryness and itchiness of the scalp. A real relief if you’ve become too aware of the top of your head for one reason or another.

So there you have it- a little bottle that packs a punch and lasts forever.

The Here and There on the Hair You Wear~!

So my hair fell out. It’s still falling out (itchy, messy short hairs EVERYWHERE!!! @.@ Rrrragh!!). I’ve learned to cope, and have since assembled a mighty army of beanies, baseball caps, hoodies and wigs. Which wigs?

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Glad you asked.

You see, I’m a geek and as a geek I go to conventions. As a geek at conventions, I often indulge in dressing up like my favorite characters in an increasingly heard-of activity called cosplay. As a cosplayer, I had discovered the joys of wigs for fun. Pink, blue, green, long, short, spiked…these were wigs designed to stand out and turn heads.

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I guess next to the ears, anything looks normal~!

My two most natural, both short haired black wigs, I had always felt looked passable…but then my confidence was shattered when I overheard a friend of a friend, obviously unaware of my situation, ask his companion why I was wearing a wig. Oops. I guess they’re only natural when you’re dressed as an elf or mystic warrior.

There was my problem though: I had never, ever, worn a wig in an attempt to look like I wasn’t wearing one. I had no idea how to even start looking for what I needed. So I did some reasearch. I read all kinds of advice (which I will later try to pick through and condense into something helpful), and approached my first purchase warily.

Now I’ll be honest. I started on ebay. I had learned fancy words and thought I could use them to get something premium at a discount price. The result was…okay.

“BRAND NEW WITH TAG HIGH QUALITYJAPANESE MONOFILAMONT TOP ANDImage KENAKALON FIBERED WIG” The seller proclaimed. “WITH BANGS, LEYERED CUT. COLOR:RED AUBURN WITH HIGHLIGHTS.”

Spelling errors aside, I liked the look of it. I’d dyed my hair red for years, and was digging the idea of a wig along the same color scheme Also monofilament (even if it had been misspelled) was one of those qualities I was using as a search term. They tended to fall more naturally and look more realistic…or something.

I got the wig for $30.99 plus $3 for expedited shipping. Not too bad. Not too good. It arrived promptly, and was…unnervingly blonde. I thought it looked fake. I thought it looked garish. I was totally over reacting because it really is a great wig…it’s just jarring to see yourself in different hair. Especially when it’s a color you’re not used to.
It wore well and breathed well though, and for awhile it was my one and only choice for hair I wear via sheer necessity Gradually I got used to it though, and now I really do kind of love it…even if it’s not really red at all and has a slight synthetic feel to the strands.

EBAY Japanese Monofilament Wig:
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Pros:
Great highlights
Breathable
Very styleable
Convincing skin top
Great combination of straight hair and waves

Cons:
Slightly wiggy feel to the strands
Cap shows here and there
Loses strands easily

I’ve come to love this wig in recent days, so II guess I kinda lucked out. However, I likely won’t be repeating my ebay experiment and I’d reccommend you steer clear of that market as well. Search terms like “monofilament” or “skin top” can yield subpar or no results. Searching for name brands or certain styles might up your chances of getting something amazing (they often come with certificates of authenticity if you get fancy enough with your desires.

…buuut even then you still run the risk of getting old and damaged, barber-cut, or at worn-out wigs. There’s also less selection, and chances are that unless you really know what you want, you’ll just end up settling. If not on style, then on color. If not on color, then on length. If not on length,the on cut…. You get the picture.

So then, if ebay is out, what else is there? Well, personally I checked out a lot of sites. Cancer sites, fashion sites, charity sites, innovation through technology sites… I mean A LOT of sites. …and then I ended up using VogueWigs.com.

Why I Use VogueWigs.Com

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Why?

Well first and foremost, It’s easy to navigate. This is important. I absolutely LOVED headcovers.com, but aie-yai-yai was their navigation a nightmare. With VogueWigs.com, you can sort by hair type, length, price, brand, and a variety of other features. The front page is intuitive and log-in features a wishlist for easy reference. The site also has a fairly good selection with many brands and price ranges represented. Finally, the site has prices in line with, if not lower than, most other sites of it’s ilk. As a bonus, they often run specials, and one day, I will catch that elusive 3 for the price of 2 Forever Young wig sale they seem to only have when I’m out of money and payday’s long in the future.

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However, the BEST thing about VogueWigs.com? The absolute BEST?? Two words: Fan. Photos.

Why do I love this feature so much? Well, because we can’t all be angle-jawed, high-cheekboned, perfectly lit

mavens(not all day, every day anyways!) 

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Seeing what these wigs look like on real live human beings gives you a feel for what these magical head tribbles will look like without a pit crew of make-up artists to tend to them. Add that to the rate and comment system and you have the next best thing to trying it on yourself.

On to the products!!!

Okiedokie, so my first purchase involved two wigs from the Forever Young company. I’d actually stumbled on the site while searching for this brand as it has a good reputation for quality wigs at a low cost. I picked one mid-length wig (Always Sexy in RS30 @ $33.95) and one longer wig (Glam Rock in HL4-30 @ $37.95) in an attempt to figure out what features I liked and didn’t like in a wig.

ImageAlways Sexy Synthetic Wig by Forever Young
I recently purchased this wig in color RS30 (dark auburn with highlights), and have been very pleased with the quality I received for the price I paid.
This wig features a lot of body, great natural looking highlights, a comfortable design, and multiple wear options. The hairline and part are very convincing, and I’ve had several people compliment me on my “new hairstyle”–the best compliment ever for my current wig wearing purposes.
My only complaint is that it has a lot of body…which for someone with a head on the smaller side (like me) can make the silhouette feel a little bulbous. My favorite way to wear is tucked behind my ears– my friends have noted that this makes my ears stand out a tad strangely (again- there’s a lot of volume!), but have concluded that it gives me an elf like appearance which I’m all for. So far I’ve accomplished half pony tail with claw clip/barrette, low pony tail with elastic, and pig tails with elastic and have enjoyed the variety.
Washing and styling is a breeze, and the synthetic hair bounces right back into place after drying without much help on my part.

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Pros:
Suitable for all day wear. Breathes well and doesn’t get sweaty or hot.
Realistic part and hairline
Pleasant touch and feel to the strands
Easy to style
Easy to wash
Cut lends itself to multiple hairstyles

Cons:
SO much body on the sides that it can be a nuisance
Somewhat strange silhouette on smaller heads if worn as is
Elf ears (which I kinda like~!) when you push the hair behind your ears
Sometimes the bangs can be a nuisance in your eyes

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Glam Rock Synthetic Wig by Forever Young
I recently purchased this wig in color HL4-30 (a dark chocolate brown), and have been very pleased with the quality I received for the price I paid.

This wig is phenomenally versatile and very convincing. The skin top absolutely had one of my taller friends befuddled, and the hairline looks super natural once on. The layers around the face do a beautiful job of framing without looking fake or wiggy. The hair strands themselves soft and pleasant to the touch as well– I love to twirl strands of this one!
Glam Rock is easy to style as well and has a world of possibilities for wear. So far I love low front pigtails, clipped and flipped pony tail in back, over one shoulder low ponytail, low centered ponytail with barrette, and even a bun with chopsticks. No matter what style, the bangs and layers frame the face beautifully without getting in the way or appearing too full.
I’ve used this wig for every day wear and have yet to find it uncomfortable, itchy, heavy, or hot. For a longer wig, it breathes very well.
Washing is super easy as well- warm water, gentle shampoo, and air dry. The strands pop right back into shape and you’re fresh and ready to go!

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Pros:

Suitable for all day wear. Breathes well and doesn’t get sweaty or hot.

Realistic part and hairline
Pleasant touch and feel to the strands
Easy to style
Easy to wash
Flattering cut
Lends itself to multiple hairstyles

Cons:
None really
I absolutely love this wig!!

So those are my thoughts on wig shopping~!

An e-mail from a friend worth spreading around.

The Awakening

(Author unknown)

 

A time comes in your life when you finally get…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH.  Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

 

This is your awakening.

 

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

 

You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

 

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

 

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

 

Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

 

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.

 

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

 

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

 

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

 

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

 

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.

 

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

 

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

 

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

 

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

 

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

 

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.

 

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

 

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

 

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

 

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

 

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

 

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you lean not to always take it personally.

 

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

 

You lean that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

 

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

 

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than you heart’s desire.

 

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

 

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

 

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.Image