I Never Thought I Was Interesting

I never thought I was interesting.

I grew up a feral upper-middle-class white straight male on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I had friends. I went to summer camp and on trips. I had too many toys.

People thought I was ‘friendly’, although that was probably because of my disposition and I had too much anxiety to talk back. Or I was too checked out from my ADD to care.

Walking outside, I was surrounded by interesting people. I would go to the basketball courts to play ball with interesting people. I was surrounded by both the massively rich and others just getting by.

People always assumed I had it easy. In certain ways, I did. In others, absolutely not.

Since I felt anxious about sharing my opinions, I learned to ask questions. I would smile a lot, and nod. Then ask deeper questions.

I loved that gleam in people’s eyes when you’d really get them going, opening up. It was a rush.

My parents were professional psychiatrists, but I was a therapist for them and everyone around. I took care of my sick grandparents, father, brother.

In college, I came down with Ulcerative Colitis, a mix of faulty genes, physical and mental stress, and a Western diet.

I wasn’t sure I’d live long. It drove me to find photography, a fun job that I could work around my strengths, my illness. I knew I could never sit in an office all day, that and even more so with the ADD.

Photography, writing, creating things allowed me the thought of leaving something. And telling people’s stories, looking at the art and books of others, it felt like living multiple lives. A deep form of travel.

I’m not a believer that art has to come from pain, it can come from pleasure as well. But it’s a damn good way to deal with pain.

I’m going in for my second skin cancer removal as this is sent out, which prompted this piece. A little hard to share, but oh well.

And I want to transition more towards being a writer this year, so this is a good impetus. But I promise I will keep it on topic here!

As the Kardashians of the world share their beauty tips, with fake lips and fillers, which we deep down hate to see while trying to hold on to every inch of ourselves. As they deceive us with retouching and doctors and fillers to sell us shame and fear and products. As the Instagram filters seep into real life.

As I get my face chopped and chopped, each scar like those Japanese broken pots where they use gold to piece them back together, prettier than the original.

I think about all the (also white) parents telling me I was too pale and needed a tan, wishing my anxious ‘niceness’ away as I told them all to go to hell and kiss my white Celtic ass.

Perfect is boring, broken is beautiful. Those imperfect details are what make life beautiful and real.

And I finally feel interesting.


10 thoughts on “I Never Thought I Was Interesting”

  1. James, yes you are a very good writer indeed.

    That, along with your excellent inherent photography skills will bring you great pleasure and confidence.

    Get well, conquer, focus and go forward.

    The Kardashians be damned.

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