Saturday, January 24, 2004
I don't like making this about how other readers look at me, but...
As you can see looking at the comments, someone's been threadcrapping. Or blogcrapping, or commentcrapping, or whatever. Basically, coming into a discussion and acting like a jerk.
Not that there isn't a worthwhile point hidden somewhere in his comments, even if they are the sort of thing that I'm long past: Why aren't I trying harder to get my old life back, signing this blog "Michelle", enjoying my relations with men (take "relations" any way you like), etc.? It's a question that probably deserves an answer, and it's something that's been on my mind for the past month or two.
The answer is, I've slowly come to realize I'm not Martin Hartle anymore. And I'm not Michelle Garber; who I am is more complicated than that.
It's easy to think of myself as one or the other, to try and be one of the other, or at least pretend to be at any time. And the title of this journal sort of reinforces that perception, that my mind has been transplanted from my original body to Michelle's. (Of course, it was originally meant to mean I had moved cross-country, but that's just one of life's little ironies) But it's more complicated than that.
Even though I mostly think of myself as Martin, because that's what my continuity of memory says I am, identity is more involved than just memory and personality - the latter of which is malleable and changes over time anyway (as does memory, in some cases). Maybe if my brain had been carved out of one head and deposited in another, I could be said to be totally Martin in another body, but that's not the case. All the "software" that makes up what I'd thought of as my mind is now running on a new "hardware" platform, which affects things.
Sexual orientation is obviously the big one. This brain, and the nose attached to it, responds to different pheremones. The body reacts to touch in different places and ways. The long and short of it is, this body is attracted to men, even though, to a certain extent, a picture of a naked woman can do more for me that a picture of a naked man. Although that's changing; the mind never stops learning and as I create more pleasant associations with naked men, I'm sort of training myself to respond to that in terms of intellect and aesthetics without even trying.
That's just the big, obvious one, though. There are others. Like, I used to be really into eating. I was fat as a kid and it took a lot of effort to get down to the healthy (if unspectacular) state my original body was in when it was taken from me. I would snack all afternoon given half an opportunity. That desire's not there any more, along with some related ones. I find I have much more self-control on Tuesday, when new movies come out on DVD, than I did before. There are periods when I drink more, but I'm under unusual amounts of stress in my state.
And intellectually - I think Michelle's brain is about as good as Martin's in terms of raw power, but it has slightly different strengths. It's a little harder for me to do long division in my head now, for example, and when I'm sitting on the subway, it's not as easy for me to shut everything else out and concentrate on the book or magazine I brought with me. However, when I'm sitting in my apartment or some other quiet environment, I think I read faster. And I think my writing's better, too. I'm not sure, since all I have to compare it to is the first week of this blog, and any improvement may just be coming from daily practice. But the cliche that girls are better than boys at English and not so skilled at math may not be complete bullshit for this girl's brain and that boy's one.
What I've come to realize is that I am a different person than I was a year ago. I'd say I'm 90% Martin in terms of personality, tastes, and abilities, and 10% Michelle. In a way, that makes me some weird sort of offspring, perhaps. It also means that the original Martin Hartle, the original Michelle Garber, the original Samantha Haskins, and whatever other people are involved in this don't exist any more. They were taken apart and put back together to form new people, who just tend to think we're these original people because that's what our memories tell us we are. I call myself "Michelle" now because that's what everybody has been calling me for six months, and I bet it would take me some time to respond to "Martin" again, but it's not strictly accurate.
I do want to find out who did this to "me", and made me what I am. It's a terrible thing to do; just because there are two healthy people after this "switch" thing is done doesn't mean two people's lives haven't been ended, and despite enjoying my daily life, I don't want it done to anybody else. But reversing it? I don't know about that any more. It's selfish, but I'm not sure I want to sacrifice my life so that "original-Martin" can exist again. Not that he could, his personality would have undergone changes based on how I've lived the past six months. Maybe when I wasn't used to this, I would have - hell, I know I would - but now that I'm used to being made out of two different people, I really don't want who I am now to get dismantled.
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