Are You Who You Think You Are To Others? by Kyle Phoenix


I do a lot in the eyes of others.  I host a TV show, run around, have held a political position, been out since The Cosby Show, write articles, write books, teach classes, teach schools, teach teachers, mentor students, etc. etc..  Sometimes in that flurry I retreat, most people don't notice my retreats.  It's generally a weekend or depending upon scheduling a week or even two or three where I deflect phone calls, I don't go out, I spend a lot of time in bed sleeping, tipping through Netflix, renting from Redbox, not shaving, arriving at 24 hour supermarket insanely early or deliriously late.  Somehow though I show up to jobs, assignments, classes, appearances, studios---fresh, clean, smiling, often sweating---I'm always overheated, I hate intense warmth, the summer time, I once spent three days of a ten day trip in my hotel room, in the blessed A/C and would only journey out to the restaurants and casino after 10pm---but with a pleasant demeanor, a chuckle, a good vibe.

That's me...mostly.

But some of my public life gets reflected back at me through feedback from strangers literally all around the world thanks to the internet and my writing.  I try to soften my "tone" in my writing, my directness but I'm very direct.  It's not that I don't suffer fools...I simply walk away from them.  I avoid extremely dysfunctional people, messiness, destructive people.  Now, sinners, I know some sinners---hell, the original meaning of the word sin is to miss the target in archery.  And I, I promise you, have sinned.


Recently though I got an email from a gentleman on Facebook and he was very...solicitous.  In fact honestly I get lots of these emails.  Basically dudes hitting on me.  Promising to come to NYC---let's hang out; tell me who you really are, Kyle; what are you into?  It's rarely honest.  By honest I mean they aren't talking to me---or to "Me"----they're talking to the author of Good Men for Men Kyle Phoenix.  I've even confronted one or two with the fact that in many areas Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. I talk about interests, hobbies, movies I like, books I've read....and on some level this blog even is entrance into "Me".  They prattle on to the point where they push that if we just talked on the phone that I would understand them, if I just met them, if I just came to some darkened alleyway.....

Ok, I tease with the last but it kind of gives off that vibe.  If you write me an email, you know what I really like directness and you getting to a point.  It can be a challenging point, a book you read, a movie you saw, a reaction to my work, a question about something I said or wrote. But if you write me "how's it going?" even as I reply, you've edged into spam.  I'm very point driven; very substance interested.  Niceties and hey, wassup and hi! and....can you sense the disdain?

A lot of these men genuinely trying to connect to another human, ironically me are often so vague and disconnected and amorphous that I have no freaking clue WHY they've emailed me.  I'm always looking for the why, the end of the question, the question, the point.

And then I got to thinking about my frustration with the above was I who I am to others?  Does my work in so many areas leave a null space for identifying who I am personally?  I in no way see myself as famous (though I have personally gotten a kick out of seeing my demographics screens and knowing that someone in Zimbabwe has looked at one of my videos.  Of me!  ME!) but as I do more and more work, I'm putting myself, my identity out there.  And people, all kinds, are looking at me, seeing me, and sometimes engaging back.


  • I am who I truly am pretty much all the time---I've never been someone that is seduce-able by looks or sweet words.  Ever.  No, never.  It's just not how I'm romantically built, in fact I was just thinking and telling someone----please don't promise anything because words mean little to me in that context, instead just do it.


  • If you tell me we're going to be friends forever, I in my head at that moment press  the stopwatch button on our friendship and start counting down to the last day of our acquaintance.  Same thing with lovers.  My love language is not Verbal nor sentiment....in that way.


Still wrestling with the question, I realized that I'm like an ephemeral thoroughbred sometimes---I've had no choice because of my...interesting...family but to learn to survive on my own, to be resilient, to hold myself when alone, to wipe away my own tears and promise myself a better day...mainly because no one else ever has...and done so.  I'm strong, not tough.  I'm also intelligent and through intensely rigorous study and self-reflection as I design education programs, curricula, etc. I've done a good hundred assessments so I understand my intelligence.  At about 15, I started finding people telling me I was smart as vacuous.  I'm far more interested in the application of my intelligence, your intelligence, the solution than acknowledgement of the obvious.


  • I hate, dread and drip with venomous disdain at announcements of the obvious:
"It's raining."
"Are you waiting for the bus?"
"Are reading the book you're obviously reading as it's open, right-side up, in English and facing your open eyes...?"

  • I like jellybeans....ironically without racial pegging, not the black licorice ones.


  • I'm cranky, grumpy and upset at the sun shining from about 8am to 1130am.  I am not a morning person.  If I am up and anywhere in the morning....just give me some space.  Give me a minute.  Don't expect a hug.


  • I never sleep the night before a new job, class, presentation---I've generally been up 24 hours by the time I start my day there---it's my own private anxiety/preparation ritual.


  • I begin to clean incessantly my desk, an office, a space when I'm about to quit or leave a job.  (I once left a toxic job with a magazine and paperweight from a desk, cubicle area covered in papers, bookcases, etc.---I cleaned out everything I'd wanted months ago and was just keeping the illusion going while I found another job.  I can phone it in to the point of seeming like the most loyal one there.)


  • I can detach so quickly and completely that others often wonder if I was lying the whole time.  In truth, I was generally working out the detachment months before the last day of our acquaintance.  I grieved the loss of you WITH you; tried to work it out unbeknownst to you; maybe even discussed it with others but the day I left?  I'd left a whole season prior to that.


  • I seem cold sometimes but it's really one of two things---detachment and I'm thinking about something, someone, somewhere else.  My mind feels like a heavy macro/microscope so I turn it to things, people, ideas and have at it but the turning, like a telescope requires calibration.  Once I turn it on you though, I am 100% present.  But that conversely means that if it' snot on you, it's REALLY not on you but it's 100% somewhere else.


  • Honestly, huge ironic honesty here, I'm not that fascinated by simply sexuality.  Yours, someone else's, your perception of mine, even to some degree my own.  I'm fascinated by the permutations and multiplicity of it and the patterns and interactions but once I was talking to a childhood friend on the phone and I very casually came out in the conversation by saying I'd joined a dating club and gone out on a date with this guy.  My friend, we were both teenagers at the time, stopped me, I clarified and them my friend proceeded to have this whole---"Wait, I have to tell you something too---I'm a transsexual."  I was like....right.  Anyway so me and this guy....friend stopped me again asked me did I know what transsexual meant...I said yes soooooooooo I'm on this date...doesn't it matter that I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body to which I replied "Are you a rude woman in a man's body who keeps interrupting my little tale?"


Ok, honestly that friendship broke up because of my spiritual beliefs.


  • I don't believe in time, space, the body or death.

And ummm....no judgment....transsexuals are real big on belief in the body.


  • I'm aware of politics, have held an appointed political position and I'm not very directly political.  Didn't vote for Obama.  Didn't vote for the Republican either.  Was torn between the Green candidate and the Independent ones.  I'm a registered Independent.  You have to work for my vote---partisanship and race are not enough.  Too bad, too sad.


  • I am sovereign unto myself.
  • I value you and your self, your sovereignty, I however hold allegiance through choice not pressure.  And ummm....the whole non-belief in time, space, the body and death....you'd be surprised how much that edits, excludes and includes and at the same time makes me very Present and Conscious about.


  • My favorite color is red.  But not bright harsh red.  Wildly, blood or brick red.


  • I have thousands of books so if you come over to my house and point out the obvious with comments like: "You have a lot of books.  Have you read them all?  Do you like to read?"  I think your parents were brother and sister.  That pause or light chuckle was me saying something so viciously horrible in my head that I laughed aloud before I gave you the "there, there" polite answer.  Folds back into that obviousness---pet peeve.  Sometimes I will even let the pronouncement----"Captain Obvious--Obvious--Obvious!!!" or "No flies on you in spite of the buzzing."


I don't mean it in a me smart, you bad way---people always think smart people are condescending, we're not.  Sometimes we're just not interested in slowing down the mental car to find out why your car isn't at least rocking the speed limit of obvious reality.  Sarcasm is often my way of trying to lighten the situation---the situation I'm talking about is my lack of patience with my own pet peeve as I try not to be judgmental in even my thoughts.  I have randomly inconsistent success.

  • I like dogs and cats.  Not small dogs.  And dogs may not sleep on the bed with me.  Cats can, at the foot of my bed.  I also treat animals, with respect like another species.  They are not "my baby", "my child", "my best friend", "the love of my life."  Dog.  Cat.  Not human.  I don't project human relationships onto animals.,  I meet animals where they're at and have our relationship from there.  Doesn't mean I don't have affection and love for them....I just don't consider them human-like.  The closest I've come is putting a t-shirt on a dog when I was a teenager because it was cold and snowing out so I could see her and she'd be a little warmer.  Normally I think doggie and kitty clothes are really, really....skiing on the mountainside of Nut Valley.
  • I prefer Pepsi to Coke.
This diatribe was inspired by someone emailing with me and asking essentially how do I get to know you and I took his point, looked at my work and saw that it IS me of course but that it doesn't always talk about me personally.  It focuses on issues, thoughts, concerns, my knowledge, my questions, my reactions to people places and things.  I hope though that this will also help you (Hi, Zimbabwe!) to define yourself directly to ask yourself what you like, how you love, who you are, how and why you do things, what you believe and why to answer that to and for people.  It's kinda liberating to do this.  I might even reallllllllllly tell you some stuff next time!


Smile,
Kyle

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