Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Alter Egos

Okay, so if this isn't the universe I belong in, what is? And who am I in that universe? Well... I don't really know. But I have it narrowed down to a few possibilities. (With apologies to Mr. Tom Weiser, whose "Alternate Ithaca Tom" Moth story did not actually serve as inspiration for this post, but which this post cannot help but slightly resemble...)

Alter Ego #1: Absent-minded college professor.
I teach a very popular freshman-level course in interpreting the spiritual messages in the classics of the sci-fi canon. I teach a much less popular upper-level course in interpreting the science fiction messages hidden in the Bible. I'm so focused on my work that I often forget where my office is located, and almost never cut my hair, lending me a disheveled boyish charm that undergraduates find especially endearing and as a result I have a difficult time resisting the temptation to sleep with my female students. I occasionally give in to it, but with only minor consequences (marriage).

Alter Ego #2: Addle-minded rock star.
I started smoking pot at a very early age and quickly discovered the joy of making music while high. Commercial success came surprisingly early, and I ended up dropping out of high school to tour. I almost never cut my hair, lending me a disheveled boyish charm that groupies find especially endearing. After a seriously wild ride and many near-death experiences (whether drug-, motorcycle-, or psychotic-fan-related) I eventually hit an emotional rock-bottom which allowed me to launch a new phase of my career, both artistically and spiritually. I devote myself to the cause of preserving the culture of the Kogi tribe living in northern Colombia and settle into a simpler more fulfilling life on my own floating eco-village in the Caribbean. I can't remember the names of most of my illegitimate children, but I let them all visit me whenever they want.

Alter Ego #3: Rodeo Clown.

Alter Ego #4: Angry-guy stand-up comic.
On a dare, I get up on stage at a comedy open-mic, shortly after dropping out of high school. I get a couple of chuckles, and one big laugh, after which I have the presence of mind to flee the stage, leaving the audience wanting more. I have no more. But I'm bitten by the comedy bug. SO, I devote all my time and energy to writing a routine. Success! Then drugs and comedy groupies! Then rock bottom! Then re-birth, as a Bill-Hicks-esque performer who rants about social issues at great length with occasional dick-jokes thrown in to keep drunken audiences happy. Despite my success, the fact that society keeps sliding into ever greater corruption and decay pisses me off, fueling my bitter angry-guy comedy which only makes me more of a hit. I am tortured by the fact that I'm essentially getting rich off the sorry state of things, but know of no other way to make a difference using my limited talents. I eventually give all my money to eco-charities and go live with the Kogi people of northern Colombia.

Alter Ego #5: Film-score composer.
This is my happiest and most boring alter ego. I live in a sleek Ray Kappe-designed house in the Hollywood hills. My wife is a yoga instructor. We occasionally swing.

Alter Ego #6: Highly successful psychotherapist.
Sick of merely serving as a therapeutic "good listener" to my friends, I decide to get the proper credentials to do the exact same thing for strangers for money. Lots and lots of money. My wife is a yoga instructor. We occasionally swing.

Alter Ego #7: Conceptual/installation artist.
I create a large Dr. Seuss-inspired metal sculpture designed to be played as a percussion instrument by up to a dozen people at a time. It proves very popular, and various cities and towns commission similar works for outdoor plazas and public parks, especially using them to help revitalize blighted inner-city areas. At first I am upset when some kids inevitably tag one of my works and consider experimenting with paint-resistant nano-materials, but decide instead to merely build especially tag-able areas into the pieces, making them intentionally interactive both sonically and visually. Eventually, serious percussive works are written for the different site-specific sculptures, weekly drum and dance circles spontaneously arise wherever they are located, and a culture of competitive musical performance groups develops, soon acquiring highly sophisticated and regimented sets of judge-able criteria.

Alter Ego #8: Dread pirate Roberts.

Alter Ego #9: Mad scientist.
Everyone laughed at me back at the academy when I presented my theories regarding the beautification of zombies. But I'll show them!

Alter Ego #10: Wacky musical instrument maker.
I specialize in constructing musical instruments from junk, found, and common household objects. I toil in obscurity until Radiohead decides to record an entire album using nothing but my creations. That's how fucking cool Radiohead is. After that, I become enough of a cult-figure that I can maintain a modest, but comfortable lifestyle in a small eco-trailer up in the Catskills, generating my own electricity and growing my own vegetables in a greenhouse of my own construction. I get stoned on homegrown every single day. I didn't marry the yoga instructor, but I did have a threesome with her and her hot friend over the course of an entire labor-day weekend.

Alter Ego #11: Buddhist Monk.

Alter Ego #12: Architect.
After winning a design award in college for "solar-powered blimp homes" that are tethered to the ground or existing buildings by cables to increase available real estate in dense urban areas without requiring more energy, I become the poster boy for "clever innovations that nobody will ever actually build." (The blimps were totally cool too. They'd remain aloft by retaining heat radiated by the sun, and generate electricity with photo-voltaic panels and wind-turbines. They'd collect rain-water and convert all waste into compost which would be used to grow plants. Non-compostable waste would have to be brought down to the surface world for recycling, etc. And how great would it be to live up in the sky, floating in a blimp!) I am occasionally approached for more down-to-earth (literally and figuratively) projects of an eco-conscious sort, and become the go-to guy for retro-fitting old buildings with green roofs. Eventually, I design and build the world's first vertical urban indoor farm in a gigantic transparent skyscraper. Proponents of the local and organic food movements hail it as a triumph. Architecture critics dig it too, with its characteristic "green glow" from within (especially striking when back-lit by the rising or setting sun). It single-handedly provides fresh produce for 15% of the population of NYC, is a huge economic success and becomes a tourist attraction as well, boasting three gourmet vegan restaurants which get all their produce from within the building. I especially enjoy the Seinfeld episodes wherein George Costanza pretends to be an architect to impress people. Oh George, you lovable ne'er-do-well...

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Well, those are all the Alternate Universe versions of myself of which I am aware. Not sure which is my favorite. I kinda like 'em all. (Vote for the one you think I should've become in the comments!) But here's the thing about them... they don't spend time wondering what my life is like. I doubt they're all that aware of me or any other counterparts. I, in this universe, who don't actually DO any of those cool things, am clearly the one with the time to imagine them all. So... I guess I'm the writer in the bunch. And that's okay, right? Maybe I can find a way to fit into this universe after all. (And I guess I gotta start taking a yoga class.)

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