Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?
Never.What did you do on your last birthday?
We are here to be who we are. I think there’s something wrong with a society that is growing its people to be self-standardizing and conformist. My job, my duty (to the universe, to God, to whatever cosmic entity you like), is to experience life as myself.
Say you and I are friends. You see someone famous and decide you want to be him instead. Now there are two of that guy and none of you, so I’m robbed of the chance of ever truly knowing you.
It was the quietest birthday I’ve ever had, and I mean that in a very good way.Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?
I have some (biologically) close relatives who suffer from personality disorders. Sometimes people refer to these types as “emotional vampires,” and I think that’s pretty accurate. They hypnotize you and wrestle for control of your mind, they feed off of your energy, and they leave you feeling dazed and helpless. Emotional vampires always go particularly crazy any time someone else becomes the center of attention, like at graduations, weddings, and also birthdays, so I grew up dreading holidays of any kind.
Two years ago, as my birthday approached, I was dealing with numerous crazy phone calls and other assaults on my consciousness each day, all from the same person. I did my best to carry on as usual, but I was constantly struggling to organize my thoughts, trying to come up with some means of defending myself against the onslaught of accusations and attempts at psychological blackmail. The day before my birthday, I was in the process of cleaning our aquarium with this storm going on in my head, and I accidentally flushed our family’s beloved pet frog. I felt terrible, and I realized it could have been much worse. That same level of distractedness might have caused a house fire or a car accident. I realized that the stress and disruption induced by this person’s behavior was dangerous to my family, and I ended the relationship.
I had considered it many times before, but the attacks were always very subtle, each one too small in itself to be the cause of ending a relationship. I was terribly unhappy and I dreaded contact from this person, but I thought I needed some big bang excuse to get out of it. Once it became clear that it wasn’t about any particular issue, but instead about the pattern of behavior I’d endured my whole life, I realized I didn’t need any argument, any big explosion, any excuse. I could just stop.
Last year was the first birthday I’d experienced when not just the actual day, but the weeks leading up to my birthday, were peaceful and drama-free. I spent the month of October bracing for an attack that never came, and when it passed without incident I felt like an expected hurricane had drifted back to sea.
THIS year, I’ll have plenty of cause to celebrate. My birthday – October 30, 2013 – also happens to be the release day for my book, “Seventeen!”
In my late teens and early twenties, I was part of a community of Japanese friends living in Iowa City, Iowa. All my roommates were Japanese. I dated Japanese girls, learned to speak the language, rolled sushi, and basically lived as a great big, hairy Japanese guy.What are you working on right now?
That would’ve been the time to get a tattoo, probably, but tattoos meant something different to Japanese people, at least back then. They signified someone’s membership in their Mafia, the Yakuza. Rather than a medium for personal expression, tattoos served as a form of group identity, marks of ownership.
I know they don’t mean that here, and I certainly don’t think any of my tattooed friends are Yakuza. I love tattoos on other people, both as creative expressions of the wearer and as works of art in their own right. For me, personally, though, that association is a little too deep.
My “Seventeen” series is a collection of adventures that together trace humanity’s evolution into a corporate species. It’s a huge arc, so I think my answer to that question for a long time will be: “I’m working on the next book in the ‘Seventeen’ series.”
By Mark Diehl
Most of the world's seventeen billion people are unconscious, perpetually serving their employers as part of massive brain trusts. The ecosystem has collapsed, and corporations control all of the world's resources and governments. A bedraggled alcoholic known as the Prophet predicts nineteen year-old waitress Eadie will lead a revolution, but how can she prevail when hunted by a giant corporation and the Federal Angels it directs?
Read an excerpt:
The mist was clearing. Brian found himself standing in the street outside the bar he had entered earlier. Half a dozen battered and bleeding men stood surrounding him, and at least as many more lay on the gravel, seriously wounded or out cold.
The attack had come from somewhere in the mist, from all directions at once. His head and torso ached and throbbed. He locked his shaking knees to keep them from buckling. Every muscle in his body seemed to be lengthening, pouring downward like water. His eyelids drooped.
One of the standing men took a step toward him, fists raised. Brian tried to turn away from him, his arm flopping behind his back like a fish.
Behind his back! His eyes opened a little wider. He straightened and forced his arm to function, whipping out his revolver and aiming it around at the circle of attackers.
He tried to pull back the hammer but too many of his knuckles were broken. He ended up simply pointing it at the closest one, who backed away cautiously. Once past him, Brian walked backwards, still aiming the gun as long as he could see them. Then he turned, moving as fast as he could manage, back toward Dok’s place.
Mark D. Diehl writes novels about power dynamics and the way people and organizations influence each other. He believes that obedience and conformity are becoming humanity’s most important survival skills, and that we are thus evolving into a corporate species.
Diehl has: been homeless in Japan, practiced law with a major multinational firm in Chicago, studied in Singapore, fled South Korea as a fugitive, and been stranded in Hong Kong.
After spending most of his youth running around with hoods and thugs, he eventually earned his doctorate in law at the University of Iowa and did graduate work in creative writing at the University of Chicago. He currently lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Author’s Website: http://www.markddiehl.com
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