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WYSINWYG, April 13th, 1997 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: April 13th, 1997
"WYSINWYG" [permalink]
    keywords: world wide web, internet, blogs, personal sites, autobiography, personality
    soapbox #: 80
    written: April 13th, 1997
    words: 1596

"WYSINWYG", an Essay

It amuses me when I see pages or comments about my site describing it as one of the rare sites that bares it all for the reader. I have never thought I've exposed too much about myself on this site. It's just words. What I expose are my ideas and thoughts, but everyone expresses them in one way or another. I consider it far more valuable to have my thoughts in writing than to simply tell other people what I think in meaningless passing conversations which are so common these days, or to keep those thoughts to myself altogether. I am perhaps keeping a diary of sorts, recording my teenage years for analysis when I'm old. Far more valuable than an actual diary, one which records what someone eats and who someone meets every day.

benturner.com is far from being a site that exposes everything. I'm okay with posting essays completely ripping enemies to shreds, but I've kept love letters out. Just isn't appropriate. I don't describe my family, my friends, my pets, or myself much more than what's on my autobio. Hell, if you saw me everyday in real life, chances are you'd still never get to know me. I don't talk. I'm not as stand-offish and volatile in real life as I am on my site or as Xeus, my current online handle. You only see the best of me through my site. You'd assume I'd rather not be bothered in real life. And you'd be right.

So do not worry about my safety on the 'Net. This project o'mine has been very carefully crafted and painstakingly maintained (with the help of certain grammarians and human spellcheckers who will go unnamed). I am aware of everything that goes on on this site, and if you've ever found any inside jokes, subtle hints, and veiled themes, then you'd understand. There are things hidden in the syllables of my words that you'll never discover.

I'm sure some people are interested in my family, since I've not talked about them very much. I have good relationships with them -- I just don't care to drag them down into this project along with me. However, I think it's fair to give you just a little more information on the Turner family, raw and uncut. Just keep it between you and me, okay?

I was born on the desolate sand dunes on the northern rim of the Sahara Desert. You see, my parents were hippies at the time they had given birth to my brother and they had quickly passed from drugged out poetic readings of beer labels to a more pleasant hermit lifestyle. They shed their material wealth and joined a caravan in northern Africa after reading some National Geographic magazines. How lucky I was to have such an experience at such an impressionable age.

We stayed there for quite a long time, surviving with just the bare necessities. I was tent-taught by my father, Fred, and in no time at all, I had memorized the Leviathan and knew how to carve a walking staff in five minutes with only my teeth. My brother and I used to try to finish our staves before the other. That bastard always won. We would sit there on the sand dunes after he won, looking for approaching sandstorms and occasionally wiping the blood from our mouths with our sandy cloth sleeves.

When I was about twelve or so, I was looking out the hole in our tent in the middle of the night, just staring up at the raven-feather black sky, wondering if V404 Cygni contained a black hole or a neutron star. My mom and I had gotten in an argument about whether or not the linguist Bopp (who did some of the early work leading up to Jacob Grimm's famous laws) had anything to do with the Hale-Bopp comet that would appear in 1997. My mom had become fascinated with the nomadic lifestyle and had picked up some mystical arts of prediction from some of the women in the caravan. The argument pretty much ended when my mom said she'd send an evil sand-eating demon after me while I was sleeping. So there I was awake. I was crying. The damn sand stung my face. Damn sand. I still wear hip-waders when I walk on the beach, I hate that sand so much.

So I was sitting there when my mom came out and said she was sorry. We put everything behind us and she asked me if I wanted anything. I told her that I wanted to move out of that Hellish Sahara. At that point I wasn't very skilled in rhetoric, so my main argument was that if we moved to a less, uh, sandy place, she wouldn't have to get all that sand out of my pajamas.

I guess I really hit the jackpot because the next day, we were beginning a trek to the closest village so we could get some money from our relatives and fly to the States.

After a somewhat uneventful escape from Africa, we caught a cheap flight on a cargo plane across the Atlantic. We had to stop in Cuba first, for some reason, but it was a pleasant trip overall. We had comfy seats full of grainy white stuff, so my butt never got sore for the whole journey. My brother, being the mischievous one he is, made a small hole in one of the chairs and tasted some of the powder. I told him it was probably just more frigging sand that was determined to stay with me wherever I went. He kept tasting the powder for the rest of the flight and didn't talk to me at all. He always ignores me. I was bored. My parents had a whole chair to themselves in some other compartment on the plane. There was a draft coming in through one of the planes doors and more of that stinging sand blew in my face. I still hate sand, but it took me a few months to get over the craving to taste more of that sand.

We found a cheap apartment in Dallas that we could stay in until we got some more money. Lucky for us, our whole family was able to join a local circus, which provided substantial pay. Every week, we would perform, each quickly becoming good at our respective crafts. My dad was part of the Salmon Ain't So trio, who spun live fish on their stomachs. My mom, Mei Lin, was part of the trapeze group who used five-foot spikes for a safety net. My brother spit fire. Me? I just sang stupid songs about my experiences in the desert, which made the crowd laugh hysterically for some reason. They made me cry when they laughed. I just kept dreaming of the good life, the proud life.

My brother quickly got bored of the weekly routine and he got involved in mass media. He had a great idea to form a 24-hour news channel on TV, so he took it to public access. He got a few sponsors like Ezekiel's Handmade Dradles and OS/2 Warp, but those products never made it. After a few short months of having no access to the latest stories beyond the local newspaper, my brother gave up his idea. My mom recommended he hand it off to our relative Ted Turner, so he did. I never found out what happened to the project after Ted took it -- my parents got in a row with him awhile back after he stole my brother's girlfriend Jane and I've never seen him since. We did get an envelope from him shortly thereafter, but I don't know what it read. And after that, we moved into a nice house in a suburb of Dallas.

From there, my life is a blur. As best I can figure it, my sci-fi book I was reading, Invaders from Mars, detailed the exact events in my adolescent years, in which my parents suddenly stopped their daily routines and began performing rituals in a zombie-like state. At first I suspected Dr. Spock or Martha Stewart, but I soon realized my parents had become suburbanites. I had heard about them on TV but I never thought my family would become them. It left me somewhat confused and hopeless, seeing my parents stuff various pagers and cell phones and Indiglo calculator watches in their L.L. Bean coats.

Dr. Franz "My Peers Call Me Freud" Ergstrom made me come in five hours a week for psychological treatment. He was quite kind, actually. He only raised his voice at me once, and that was for being a smart-ass. And he made sure to put my finger paintings of apocalyptic destruction in only the best light.

When I got home and was released from the steel restraints and muzzle, my mom showered me with moonstones, sulfur in a leather pouch, and an acceptance letter from UT Austin.

Just as my family had accepted a life of yuppie-ish tedium, I had accepted UT Austin.

And now I am still trying to make it. I think I will, my Christian God willing.

Except for the UT Austin part, this account is 100% true. Hope you enjoyed a little insight into our family's history. See you next week.


 
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