Grey

Grey is a mist slowly crawling along an urban landscape. Concrete and metal skyscrapers disappearing in the descending fog.

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It is cool and unemotional, sitting on the fence, neither black nor white, good nor bad. It reminds us that nothing is absolute, there is nuance in everything, and one must usually compromise or else end up unsatisfied. Of course, even with compromise one is usually unsatisfied, which is the inevitability of grey.

 

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Grey serves the same purpose in a wardrobe, to tie colours together without the boldness of black or the pretentious innocence of white. It is a safe neutral (as opposed to brown, which can be contentious), cool but not cold, reliable, dignified, and utterly inoffensive. It can be boring, but is not necessarily so.

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I have always veered more towards silver than gold, as it seems the less ostentatious, but equally striking metal. There is power in a grey metallic, but also an ease. There is no glamour in grey, but silver can sizzle. Wear both grey and silver with pride, knowing that you are setting the stage for other colours to shine, as this is grey’s ultimate purpose: to fade into the background, and let others take the limelight.

I don’t travel well

I am a broken shell of a human. Bitter and sickly, and an utter Scrooge when it comes to stepping outside of my house for more than an hour, or further than a block away. But I wish it wasn’t so. Like most, I like to travel, in the sense that visiting new and different places is interesting and stimulating. Unfortunately, I’m not good at travelling. I don’t mean that I’m bad at organizing trips, I mean that I’m too physically fragile to ever really be able to fully enjoy vacationing. I’m not as frail as I was as a child, but I’m still, it seems, more prone to illness than the average Joe anytime I’m confronted with climate change. My body seems to be wholly incapable of adapting to differing environments.

I live in Montreal, Canada, and according to official officialness we have a humid continental climate with severe winters, no dry season, warm summers and strong seasonality. This is all true except I would change the word “warm” to “hot as hell” to classify our summers, and I call bullshit on this “no dry season” nonsense. Ok, technically, we never experience a season without precipitation but our winters feel very arid for someone with extremely dry skin.

My body has ostensibly adapted to this climate, but I still struggle with nature’s animosity, as my body is extremely sensitive. My eyes are prone to infection, my skin will break out in eczema from the slightest provocation, and will burn after literally five minutes in the sun. I’ve got every seasonal allergy imaginable as well as allergies to all mammals with fur, and even with no allergens in sight I’ve got sinus issues. Anytime I move from indoors to outdoors and vice-versa my sinuses are triggered. In fact EVERYTHING triggers my sinuses. Eating triggers nasal drip. Working out triggers it. Standing up triggers it. Leaning over triggers it. Reciting poetry triggers it. But I’m used to living this way and have more or less adapted (though my S.O. will tell you I haven’t learned not to complain about it!) But when I travel all of these problems are exacerbated. When my body is confronted with a different climate than I’m used to, it rebels, with snot. And thanks to my super fun anemia, I also have a weak immune system so I’m pretty much guaranteed to catch a cold no matter where I go.

When I was kid I really enjoyed airplane rides, I suppose because of the novelty. But now airplanes fill me with dread, because they are literally just viral incubators in the sky. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a trip and not gotten sick. I can’t blame the planes though, I get sick on road trips too. I get sick no matter where I go. I get sick in Europe, I get sick in the States, I even get sick just going to friends’ houses.

When I was younger, I think I felt like there was nobility in this suffering. Or perhaps I was simply ashamed of my own fragility and felt like it was my duty to suffer in silence so as to accommodate others. But as I get older, I grow less tolerant of this suffering. I’ve mostly reached a point where I’m unwilling to go to certain places because I know they will be lessons in enduring hardship. I still go to my mother’s and my sister-in-laws’ for holidays but I won’t go just to hang out because they have cats and dogs. I refuse to feel bad for not staying at the houses of friends with pets. Stop trying to guilt me into spending the night. When I was young I would put up with other people’s allgergen-rich homes because I was poor and polite. Now I don’t give a shit. If you’re insulted by me staying in a hotel, so be it. I will not hang out in your cat-infested house of horrors!

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And I’m fucking done with Airbnb! And regular B&Bs for that matter. Regardless of how nice these places appear to be they are inevitably crawling with something that triggers all manner of runny noses and itchy eyes. And I will no longer tolerate that “Oh, it’s just allergies” attitude from myself or others. These supposedly innocuous allergies have gotten so bad that they are indistinguishable from a cold. It’s now happened to me more than once that I became so headachy, so runny-nosed, so lethargic and fatigued that I was convinced I had fallen ill, only to have this illness miraculously cured the moment I got home and took a shower.

So even though I’d like to travel, because there are a lot of places in the world I’d really like to see, I don’t always have the energy to face the inevitable onslaught of pain and discomfort that will follow. Which is why I’m done with all those listicles and pins advocating the ten places you simply must travel to before you turn 30! (Meanwhile, I’m 40 so according to society I’ve already missed the boat). Apparently you just haven’t lived until you’ve backpacked across Europe and stayed in these amazing hostels. But I can’t stay in hostels! I can’t even stay in chic hotels! I can only stay in 5-star chain hotels that bleach the fuck out of their sheets and have climate control in their rooms. Stop making me feel bad for not going to the back streets of such and such city. I can’t even go to the front streets of such and such city. I can barely handle the front streets of my city! (Thanks, smokers). And stop asking me where I’m going when I take a vacation. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to stay locked up inside my condo for two weeks straight because those two weeks without any contact with the natural atmosphere will be the most comfortable weeks of my life.

Black

In light, black is the absence of colour. In pigment, it’s all colours mixed together. Either way black represents space, the infinite, never-ending, all-encompassing. It is dark and mysterious, and symbolizes mourning and evil in Western cultures. In clothing, an all-black outfit can be goth or elegant, depending on styling. Black is the easiest neutral to work with because it goes with absolutely everything. It is safe, and no-fault, while simultaneously evoking power and sophistication.

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I tend to gravitate towards colour more than neutrals but obviously neutrals have their place in any wardrobe, and I certainly have more black than any other neutral, as most people probably do. I used to shun black because I’m so pale and I worried that it would make me look sickly but I’ve been assured that I look good in this darkest of shades, and so have allowed more black to creep into my closet. I’m still hesitant to fully embrace it though and will never wear an outfit that is entirely black, as it’s just not me. I will also admit that I find relying on black too heavily rather paradoxically comes across as lazy, or try-hard, again depending on styling. Not that I’m anti-goth mind you. I’ve always loved the goth style, because it’s so deliberate and directed. I love it when anyone fully commits to a look, regardless of what that look is. I even dyed my (naturally blonde) hair black once, in an effort to be more edgy, and let’s just say I soon learned the pain of bleach, because that was one hair colour I could not pull off.

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I will say though, that I’m quite glad we’ve reached a place in electronics where black is the default, rather than beige. Yes, I’m old enough to remember when all computers were beige for some reason. I’ve also discovered, while putting together my black colour boards, that black is pretty ubiquitous in workout gear as well. I guess it’s just not manly to lift in any other colour.

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But when it comes to accessories, and home decor, you can’t go wrong with black. Many interior designers will say that every room needs a bit of black to anchor the space. I don’t disagree. While I veer towards bright colours in my home as well as my wardrobe, I like dark accents, and have decorated my condo thusly. Black is classic, but equally modern. Let’s face it, if all the colours were to fight for dominance, black would win.

July 9, 1991

It was pretty embarrassing for me and Keith to be at Crystal’s prom. I mean we felt pretty dumb, two kids with a bunch of prom dudes. Anyway, it was Canada Day last week and I wanted to go to all the festivities but nobody else did so we just went to Baskin-Robins. Jane went and she said I didn’t miss anything. But to be patriotic I stuck a little Canadian flag in my bike handle when we rode to get ice cream. I was invited to a surprise party for Alex Marquez (on Saturday). His brother called me. I said I wold probably go but then I didn’t. I wouldn’t have liked it anyway. Today Angela Aury invited me to her b-day party (tomorrow). I said I already had plans. I’m glad I said I had plans because I really don’t feel like going to parties these days.

                                     It’s ridiculous how long it took me to realize that it was my own fault I was lonely. I thought I didn’t have any friends, and that everyone hated me, but look at how many parties I was getting invited to! Sometimes, when I look back I think I should have forced myself to to go to these events, and romanticise what could have been, but the truth is I wouldn’t have enjoyed them, because of my social anxiety. Even today I require rather specific conditions to enjoy social gatherings, and get overwhelmed at the prospect of too much socialising

I can’t wait ’till we go to PEI, it will be fun. I finished making three puffy paint t-shirts today. I think they look good.

                               I don’t have those shirts anymore, but I feel pretty confident in saying they didn’t look good.

Well that’s it. Bye. 

P.S. I had a dream I was eating candy so I’m gonna send Keith out for some. 

                              I still dream about candy. 

Brown

Brown is a neutral, and in terms of pigment can be created by mixing two complementary colours. I usually make brown by mixing red and green, so brown is like Christmas, in that you take the shiny, apparently joyful aspects of the holiday, and mix them together to end up with absolute shit.

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I kid, I don’t hate Christmas nor brown. Black gets all the love in terms of popular neutrals, but brown is underrated. Brown can be quite serviceable when you need a neutral to break up an outfit but feel that black would be too harsh. Brown is much warmer than both black and white, and grey for that matter. I find brown to be particularly effective with blue, and it can also work nicely with pink, but it’s probably best to keep it away from orange, lest you look too ’70s, unless that’s what you’re going for, and if it is, respect.

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When I was conceiving of my brown colour boards I thought I would struggle to find brown objects around the house, believing that since I love colour so much, it’d be hard to find much of the neutral. But brown is everywhere. I’ve got way more brown shoes than any other colour, and plenty of brown fabrics, and trinkets, and furniture. Brown is everywhere! Though curiously, as I was scouting the outside world I found that trees, at least in Montreal, actually appear more grey than the stereotypical brown. Still, brown is associated with nature, just as green is, because it’s the colour of wood (supposedly?) and dirt, and the aforementioned shit. And even though it’s also the colour of chocolate, a lot of people dislike brown. I know a few people who are so anti-brown that I actually feel weird wearing it in front of them. But ultimately their hate is their problem, not mine, so I shall wear brown proudly and shake my brown-clad butt in their faces if they don’t like it!

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Not so big on the smalls

The movie Big came out in 1988, which means I was twelve when I saw it. Actually I was probably thirteen since I would have likely seen it when it came out on video. I distinctly remember disliking the movie because, though it was fun, I felt it was disrespectful towards children, and was offended on behalf of myself and all my fellow kids. The main character was my age and I felt Tom Hanks’ portrayal of a child was horrendously off the mark. I remember reading reviews of the film, and being appalled that everyone though Hanks’ performance was incredible, and that he’d perfectly captured the essence of a twelve-year-old. What baloney, I thought! No child of that age would ever behave so immaturely! No kid would act like an idiot when riding in a limo, or be so obtuse as to spit out food at a cocktail party. How outrageous!

But then I saw the movie again as an adult, and was highly impressed by Hanks performance. As an adult, I felt that he had completely nailed his performance. Children, are indeed, exactly that annoying and immature. What a difference adulthood makes.

I did a lot of babysitting when I was a teenager, and I was a favourite of my neighbours’ kids. I couldn’t quite match their energy levels but I enjoyed our games just as much as they did. When I was in my twenties I worked at a children’s library and interacted with children all day, sometimes leading them in storytime or singalongs. And I enjoyed it! In spite of the basically non-existent salary I thought it was a great job.

Sometime during this era, I remember having a conversation with a friend who was denouncing children, and how awful it was that they were allowed in public spaces such as the restaurant we were currently in. I took her to task, passionately defending children and their right to inhabit public spaces. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I do remember my friend’s reaction, which was surprise that I felt so strongly about the issue. I have a history of coming across as a rather negative person so I guess she assumed I hated kids as much as she did. Turns out all she had to do was wait a couple decades. Because today, she is the proud mommy of a little baby boy, and I absolutely despise those little snot-buckets.

This drastic change in opinion has taken place rather recently, but was also somewhat gradual. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties I was seriously thinking about having children of my own. I was never that person who always longed to have kids, but I never dismissed the idea either. It was at this point that my sister had a baby and so did a few friends, and I started to receive encouragement from all sides to join the club. I did a lot of research about pregnancy, and child-rearing, and still could not decide whether or not I wanted kids. I liked the idea of passing on my genes (defective as they are) but wasn’t too thrilled about how much work it would be.

Even though I’d always been good with kids, I’d never liked babies. When my then-boyfriend and I visited his sister, who’d just delivered a baby, in the hospital, his mother insisted I hold the parasite, no doubt hoping this would trigger some maternal instinct in me. It had the opposite effect. I was disgusted and repelled. When my nephew was born I was flooded with feelings of love for him, but wasn’t really interested in taking care of him. Babysitting him was boring at best, and exhausting and time consuming at worst. As he aged, so did my distaste for him. I continue to love him, but I can’t say I particularly like him, or any other children.

I broke up with my then-boyfriend when I was around thirty-three, and started going out with my current boyfriend. He and I were both in similar places: devastated by our breakups and unsure of what we wanted from life/relationships going forward. He, like me, has a history of being well liked by children. He was the “fun” uncle to his niece and nephew. But as he and I have grown closer, and developed our two-person rhythm, our uncertainty towards children has grown into antipathy. During our relationship I turned thirty-five, the age at which a pregnancy becomes “geriatric” and high-risk. Being on the sickly side, I’d always told myself that if I didn’t have children by that age, I never would, as I’d never wanted to risk my health just to have a baby. But there I was, on the wrong side of my thirties, wondering if I should extend my deadline. But now, only five years later, I’ve wholeheartedly decided that the answer is no, no kids for me.

I just can’t stand them anymore. Whenever I’m forced to interact with friends’ kids I always find it a loathsome experience, mostly because I’m so bad at it. I used to be so good with kids but now I’m just awful. I barely have the energy to even acknowledge their existence, much less interact on their level. Recently I yelled at my nephew when he was being bratty and he asked me why I was so angry. I was taken aback because it was such a valid question. Why indeed was I so angry? The kid’s only eleven! I can’t expect him to be perfectly rational all the time. Why did I lose my temper?!

So it’s a chicken or egg situation. I don’t know if my distaste for kids has turned me into someone who can’t relate to them of if as I age I become less able to relate and therefore more hostile towards them. I also wonder if it’s a reverse psychology situation, wherein I’ve convinced myself that I hate kids because I’ve never had them. If I wasn’t forty years old, and over the kid having hill, would I still enjoy the grubby little virus-factories? And then there’s the societal pressure to join the mommy club. My boyfriend faces parental pressure as well, but it’s nothing like what women go through. I’m over 40 and yet people still ask when/if I’m having kids. Does this line of questioning ever end? Am I turning into a hardcore child-free advocate simply to counteract the overwhelming pressure that society places on me to conform?

 

My boyfriend is even more hardcore anti-child than I am, to the point where he often tries to convince others that a child-free lifestyle is superior to child-burdened one, even people who already have kids. I’ve accused him of overcompensating in this area, perhaps in an effort to truly convince himself. After all, if someone is fully comfortable with their beliefs, do they really feel the need to convert others? But on the other hand, I don’t disagree with him. Most people I know who’ve had kids have changed, and not for the better. They are tired, irritable, uninteresting, and uninterested. I can’t blame them, as I know they’re overworked and under-slept. But why would anyone look at that life and find it attractive?

My boyfriend and I have made ourselves a very comfortable, dare I even say luxurious life. This is the privilege of DINKs (dual income no kids). I’m satisfied with the way things have turned out but part of me mourns the old me, the one who could play with kids and actually enjoy herself. I certainly don’t want to be hateful. But on the other hand, eww, kids are gross. Keep those fuckers away from me.