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You don’t know me.

I am Joseph B. Ottinger. Nobody calls me “Joseph,” except once. It’s a psychological icebreaker, a way of saying “Sure, my name is Joseph, but please call me Joe, because we’re on familiar terms.” I do this because I would be a recluse, a hermit, if I didn’t forcibly find ways to establish contact with other humans.

I am irreparably flawed. Physically, I am hypoglaucemic, with a metabolism far faster than it should be, requiring constant sustenance. I also have a bilateral cleft palate. Mentally, I am a monopolar depressive, which means I get all the benefits of massive depression without the happiness of occasional mania.

I am married to a beautiful wife, with beautiful children, if you’ll pardon my borrowing a phrase from the Talking Heads. My wife is a wonderful person. My children have her eyes, her hair, and her zeal. This is a marvellous thing. Everything I do, I do for them. I try to find new things to teach my children every day, and I try to tell my wife every day that I love her, in a unique way.

I am a musician. I play most stringed instruments, some with moderate skill and others without. I also play many percussive instruments, and enjoy synthetic sounds, although I use primarily “real” sound sources. I have recorded a large number of songs, serving as my own producer and engineer. Some are pretty good; most are crap. I try very hard to do my best, but I don’t have the raw skill or enough of a vision to create “complete” music; I generate vignettes. I do my own singing, which – with a cleft palate – carries what I hope are unique challenges. Many of my recent songs are online somewhere; some have even gained very limited airplay.

I am an author, although I promise you that you will never see most of what I write. I write to myself, for clarification and recreation. Like my musical efforts, there is not enough discipline on my part to create something I feel is worth propagation.

I am also a very critical person. My ability to see patterns and potential makes me very bitter, because I see what could be as a backdrop for what is. I give everything of myself, and demand the same; when I do something, you can rest assured you’re getting the best I could do at the time, with commitment. I expect the same from others. I have rarely been satisfied; a few musicians, a published author or four (Hofstadter, Potok, Gibson, Lee), and even a software product has gotten it bloody well right every now and then, but most of the time… all I see is what could be, and it hurts.

I am a Jew. I am a Jew who studies the momentum his Jewishness gives his personality and mores, and is unapologetic about it. I will never forget what I am, or what brought me here, the fires of Europe and the blades of Russia, the whips of Egypt and the chains of Babylon.

I am broken. Is that not enough? Being broken, I strive for completion, and I don’t even know what completion will manifest itself as. Quoting Rush’s “The Fountain of Lamneth,” I’m forever at the start… and still, I am.

You don’t know me.