Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Two nights of poor sleep leave me feeling brittle and strange. Unusually vulnerable to communication -- and to stomach upset. I went into the world today with strange hair, drank mocha slowly, browsed Barnes and Noble.

The books I touched on today were Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and Food and Loathing by Betsy Lerner. They strike me with equal force -- both pressing truth into the world, projecting personal story. No matter that one is an argument for the value of comics as a medium, and the other the story of overcoming depression and compulsive eating. Both personal, both true.

My hair doesn't look that bad to me, coming home and looking in the mirror. This morning, I twisted it into three locks -- faster and more chaotic than braiding, each lock two strands twisted then countertwisted against each other. I don't have enough practice to make them even and regular as I imagine them ideally. But if I saw them on someone else, I'd probably think "Cool." Asymmetry, order, chaos.

Still, wearing them outside, I felt exposed, too strange, an outsider. I went to a coffee shop I never frequent for the steamed soy that seemed like it would settle my stomach, not wanting to encounter people I knew. Fortified by the impulse additions of chocolate and coffee, I braved my frequented bookstore. The pointing and laughing I half-expected never materialized. I guess I managed to pass.

Then I encountered Scott McCloud and Betsy Lerner -- both in their way outsiders -- from the marginalized art of comics and the sensation of self as unaccepted when overweight. How many of us feel normal and popular, anyway?

Never mind. My empathy to Scott, to Betsy, and to me -- three outsiders trying, at least, to say something true and personal.

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