The first thing you know is that for a long time on the Internet, my name was reive. Reive was a young hermaphrodite in Elizabeth Hand's Aestival Tide. I named myself after her sometime in the early 90s because I felt third-gendered; because I, like her, am not the best at housekeeping; and because people were afraid of her because her eyes were green, the color of death in her world. My eyes aren't green, but I've never felt quite right or like my gaze was pleasant.
I was reive before there was LJ. I was reive on a place called Mindvox, which I often refer to as the BBS-that-must-not-be-named, because naming it often brings bullshit to my door. But stories aren't as good if you can't name names.
On Mindvox it would be fair to say I was known for a few things, including talking about myself a lot in a manner that some found self-important and/or over-sharing. Some people liked me, and some didn't. Some people were mellow about these things (we all have different tastes) and some people were bullies. The details are long and not very important, but it helps, somehow, if you know two things: First, I, like many people on Mindvox had a number of sexual relationships with other people on Mindvox and talked about them publicly. Second, when someone once asked me what I thought the most important thing in a life could be, I said "impact." I was probably about 21.
When Mindvox died, we found other homes on the Internet – other BBS's and mailing lists, and eventually on LJ. I was reive. That was me. Hello. If you read it, I ask you not to hold it against me.
Eventually I decided I was going to do something other than talk a lot and hope someone discovered me. When I became an actor and a writer, when I did the things that led to my having the many hats I have now, I decided I needed a change, and I came here, became rm in the hopes that here I could be professional and style myself a public figure. I chose my initials over my name for a number of reasons – one a private joke, another just sheer ease. My full name is cumbersome. It's great as a brand, but is often difficult as a life.
Initially, all that went terribly. It was nearly impossible for me to rein in the desire to talk about the things I wasn't supposed to talk about. And so this journal became just as personal as that. In time, I realized that people who dig my stuff, well, part of what they dig is that. That I'll give you me. My story. As much and as often as I can.
I come from a family of image-makers. My father was in advertising. My parents are painters. My mother designed rugs for years and then wound up selling luxury jewelry. And I was educated by image makers too. I had a uniform and rhetoric classes. I learned ways of speaking that have served me remarkably well but don't always make me a pleasant person to be around.
Actually, that's true of a lot of things. It's not just that the work is the prayer. It's that the work is my life and my life is the work, and my life is a prayer, a constant act of will and often desperation on my part to be better, stronger, more successful, more capable than I naturally feel. It makes me ruthless and often sad.
That's a complicated way of saying that what you see here is totally real. It's totally me. It's totally the stuff I care about in the way in which I speak. I don't make up stories, but I do tell them the only way I know how, with catch phrases and force: "my mother never loved me" as opposed to “sometimes, I think my mother never loved me.”
Somehow, somewhere, along the line, a lot of people started reading this. Some of that was because of my Harry Potter book, some was because of therealljidol, some was because of a well-timed rant, or a con appearance, or whatever. Somehow, there's 1,200 people listed as reading this thing (although I assume many of those users are inactive due to the length of time I've been on LJ), and I get a crapload of pageviews. I'm not the most popular person writing on LJ by any means at all, but I also blip far over the average and the mean.
This has meant a few things. Many of them good. I have my assumptions and privileges challenged on a regular basis. I see new issues I need to care about and get active about. I can make a difference (there's that "impact" again), and I have an amazing network of people that connect for everything from jobs to philanthropy to fandom. And you are the audience for this thing that I do, which is mostly just talking about stuff I dig in a way that's hopefully entertaining. You all are funny and smart and often make me the most happy when you're talking to each other. And whether you mean to be or not, you are totally there for me when I hate myself.
I hate myself a lot. It's not really a big deal. It's just a thing. No one has the type of ambition I do because they're a well person. No one puts themselves out there because they feel loved or worthy enough. No one really thinks pothos, no matter how useful, is a good feeling to have all the time. And that's kinda me.
All of which means that my relationship with LJ, the collective, isn't really always the best thing for me. I rely on you all too much and feel a tremendous amount of self-created pressure to keep you entertained and to provide a good environment for you. I get incredibly nervous if I can't respond to a comment nearly immediately or if someone misinterprets one of my incredibly tortured sentences. I worry about posting before going out or to sleep in case someone raises an issue where I made a mistake or a typo or caused offense, and I'm not able to fix it right away, to make good. I just want to be good.
This isn't your fault. It's just how I am. I'm a perfectionist. But the thing is, it's not possible to be perfect. And, if you're me, it's not possible to stop trying.
Of the many weird things about my LJ existence is the public/private issue. Despite talking far less about my personal life than I have in the past, I'm also more public than I've ever been. It is in some ways exactly what I always wanted. In other ways it sucks – some of those ways I didn't anticipate and some of those ways are just peculiarities of being a public person no one's heard of and never knowing if I'm supposed to view myself as a public or private figure (in that we're-all-famous-on-the-Internet way), of never knowing if the icon of me eating babies is, at this point, bullying or satire.
Here's the thing. I want to keep doing what I do. I want my life to be the work and my work to be the life and all of it be the prayer. I want to keep being an activist. I want to be kind. I want to be exacting. I want to use the sins of marketing on my own behalf. I want people to have a great place to talk about issues or random stuff that's fun. I want to provide a place where I can put people together so they can help each other out. I want to create an archive that proves I was once here.
But in order to keep doing that, I'm going to have to make some changes. Nearly all of them internal. I'm going to have to learn to allow myself mercy for my own mistakes and others', even if I will always be (and am not willing to step away from being) a perfectionist.
I'm going to have to keep learning about how powerful my particular language skills are and work to use them more and more and more precisely, while also seeing the consequences of refusing to be a person who says “in my opinion” to negate my belief or apologize for my force.
I'm going to have to be kinder.
And work harder and squashing the mean voices in my head that come, not from you, but from me, and from my past.
Starting Monday, I'm going to start filtering my LJ comment notifications to a folder, so I'm not “on call” all day. I'll check in periodically, especially if I've posted something controversial, and totally respond during those check in periods. If I fuck up – if I typo, if I say something shitty and -ismy, if I post a summary of an article that you think is totally off base – I hope you'll to feel as comfortable telling me that as you always have been (something I've always loved about all of you, because it's generous and because it means you're not afraid of me or don't think I'm a waste of time), and I will respond when I check in and make good as best as I can. Obviously, the ideal is I don't fuck up, but it's going to happen, and when it does, I promise to try to listen and be as responsible as I can be.
A lot of other things won't change. Sundries will still be here. So will my fanfic. And my scholarship. So will my very aggressive belief in the beauty and importance of things that some of you will find unimportant or distasteful. I will still write about sex work, about Miss Hewitt's, about things lost to the world, about my travels, about my creative work and random obsessions, about my arrogance and desire and drive, and about Patty and our life and the funny little stuff we do.
But it's going to be with a different sort of mindfulness, both of you the readers, but also of myself. I cannot guarantee my journal as a safe space – not for you, not for me, nor for anyone. But I need to try more consciously for you, and absolutely do everything I can on this front for me. Because I deserve a safe-ish space too, even if I'm not living a safe life in a safe way. Right now, I don't feel like I have that safe-ish space, because of this self-created sense that I need to be on-call for this journal and the people who read it all the time.
Before you write or comment to ask if you were a straw that broke the camel's back, you weren't. I was.
Right before Dragon*Con, my arrogance caused me to make a faux pas with some potentially pretty awful consequences for myself professionally and personally. Everyone involved was lovely about it, and I'm grateful for that generosity and it's going to be okay. But, as it happened, I was not able to be generous or merciful with myself, and felt a great urge to step back from my public life and my ambition in response, which was pretty hard to do going into my busiest Dragon*Con ever.
Anton, who came to the con, sat in my hotel room one day, and he listened to me speak in my private, quite voice with the swallowed vowels of too much travel about all this pain I have – in how I treat myself, in how I feel I let people down, in how I balance the public and the private both so artfully and miserably. He just nodded a lot. Mostly, I just needed to say it. And Anton knew me before I was rm so he's a great sounding board.
Since then, that conversation has lingered, and I've been thinking too how to say it here. This is my attempt to do that. And this is me saying it now, because this is the week I've had a lot of reason to revisit my past: the year I learnt to act, the year I went to Australia, the year I graduated high school, the year I was no longer reive. It was so good, when I got to stop being reive.
So it feels good and right to write all this now, even if it doesn't really impact you.
My experience of religion has always been odd and problematic, and it's a topic I've tripped on in the past. But for me, the work is the prayer. And I know this is right, because when I prayed in a more traditional sense far more often than I do now, one thing I noticed was that praying nearly always hurt. And that was good.
These words don't feel much different.