Grey & Green

Grey isn’t always melancholic, sometimes she’s just indifferent, but lately she’s been going through a tough time. Her friend Green comes by for a visit and rather than go out and pretend to enjoy the insipid offerings of their city, they agree to stay in. Their primary activity is sipping tea while listening to the rain. Though it’s chilly out, Green insists on opening the window so she can smell the rain as well as hear it; she wants to completely immerse herself in nature. It’s early spring and the weather has been all over the place. Sometimes freezing, sometimes mild, usually snowing. Today the rain is diluting the snow into dirt and creating slush, and Grey wonders if she too is a mix of purity and filth. Perhaps we all are, muses Green, knowing everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses.

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Green suggests they play an intellectual board game, such as scrabble, as she’s keen to keep her most important muscle, her brain, in constant motion. Grey shrugs, as she could go either way. They play the game, with Green handily winning, as Grey doesn’t put in nearly as much effort. It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the game, but she knows from experience that Green hates to lose, as she’s got a bit of a jealous streak, and Grey is equally happy winning or losing, since she knows the distinction between the two is irrelevant. Life is meaningless either way.

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Green isn’t one to get exasperated, as she’s very patient and calm, but she rolls her eyes at Grey’s nihilism. She brings up the current political climate, wondering if we are destroying the world. Grey wisely points out that the world is better now, statistically speaking, than it’s ever been. And yet, no matter how good or bad the world is overall, for some it is a dystopia, and for others, a utopia. This dichotomy will always exist, argues Green, as the actual state of affairs is unimportant. What matters is perception. Some people are optimists, and others are pessimists. Yes, nods Grey, and some are a mix of both. Finally Green and Grey can agree, as they are both realists.

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November 28, 1991

Thursday – Only a few more days until December and then almost a month until X-mas. I cannot wait! Even though we are going to Toronto this X-mas.

                               The most interesting thing about this entry is how neat my handwriting is. I don’t know what got into me. I guess I was trying something new. It certainly didn’t last. 

A lot has happened since I last wrote, so bear with me here. I got over J. Priestley a long time ago.

                              What a relief!

I liked Leonardo (I don’t know his last name) who plays Luke on Growing Pains. I don’t know… now it’s no one.

                              Lol. Remember when Leonardo DiCaprio was on Growing Pains? I’m glad my crush on him lasted only two weeks, and was well over by the time he became a bloated mess of a human manatee. 

I didn’t win that art contest. I saw the competition and I say the judges are on drugs. So the painting is in the basement.

                             I still can’t figure out which painting I submitted. No doubt it was garbage.

Jacques was here for a while. Now he’s in Edmonton, he’ll be back.

                            If that “he’ll be back” sounds ominous, it’s intentional. My sister and I were born in France and Jacques was our babysitter when we were babies. I was two when we moved back to Canada so I have no memories of him as a babysitter but several memories of him visiting us in Montreal. My siblings and I all passionately hated him, and I’m not entirely sure why. I mean, he was deeply annoying, but I can’t really pinpoint any particular behavior deserving of the extreme ire we felt towards him. He still creeps me out (though I haven’t seen him in decades) and I still don’t fully understand why. Sometimes I worry that he did something to us as babies that traumatized us and we can’t remember it but remember the feeling of fear.

I auditioned for the school play but I didn’t make it. The drama dude, Mr. Whittmore said I had a good delivery and that I made a strong impression on him but I didn’t even make it. Not even as a pictorial. I’m trying not to be depressed. My English teacher sent in a short story I wrote (Suspense, Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew) to Fledglings (a collection of writings and stuff).

                          I remember that story. I was quite proud of it. The twist at the end is that the narrator is dead. Some kids in my class didn’t get it, but thankfully my teacher did. 

M&R is the best. We did hot seat, it was amazing. I was second to go. It’s weird because the person who went first said the number (for the next person) and she said 13. I knew right away it would be me, and it was. I loved it! My Art teacher gave me a pamphlet for the Canada Day poster challenge… I lost my agenda. It had such cool decorations. SIGH. Bye.

                          I remember that poster contest. My submission was garbage but I was still rather disappointed, perhaps even surprised, when I lost. In spite of my low self-esteem I was remarkably arrogant about my artistic abilities at that age. Thankfully that overconfidence fizzled away by the time I got to University and met people with actual talent. I also discovered that artists were insufferably pretentious prats (maybe I saw something in them I didn’t like in myself) and chose to go in a different direction. I guess this blog is evidence that I am returning to the ways of insufferable navel-gazing, but now I have a more realistic perception of my own art. Progress!

Pink & Grey

It is a cool, misty morning when Grey awakes and greets the day. She’s unbothered by the drizzle outside, and some might say she even relishes it, only happy when she’s sad. She sits on her couch wrapped in a blanket and sips herbal tea, listening to melancholy podcasts about the duality of humanity’s nature. It is only when Pink comes over and drags her out of the house that Grey remembers there is an outside world. Pink is ready for anything but knows that her introverted friend would rather do something solitary and calm. They go to a museum where Pink rushes to the modern art section and asks Grey’s opinion of the pop art, which is her favourite. Grey is neutral on the subject, neither liking nor disliking the work. She isn’t exactly unmoved but is mostly indifferent.

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Disappointed in her friend’s opinion, or lack thereof, Pink drags Grey to a small bar with a live band covering pop hits from the 80s and 90s. Pink downs tropical drinks and dances in her seat, singing along to the songs. She tries to get Grey to join her but Grey remains immobile, sipping her whiskey slowly, thoughtfully. Finally the band is done and makes way for the beat poets. Grey nods as they discuss the inevitability of mortality in an indifferent world while Pink tries to hide her irritation. She makes an effort to listen, to really understand, and eventually she gets it, transforming into a dusty rose.

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“Shall we go, Pink?” asks Grey as the evening winds down and the poets have all turned to drowning their sorrows in drink. “Rose, call me Rose,” Pink replies evenly. Grey is only somewhat regretful at having brought out Pink’s emo side. She’s glad that they can go home in silence, both brooding about the day’s events, but she knows she’s squashed a little bit of Pink’s effervescence. She does nothing though, knowing that time will heal all wounds, and tomorrow is another day. Hopefully, another rainy day.

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Are nerds born or made?

Are nerds born or made? I guess the larger question is: Is anyone/thing born or made? But at the moment I’m wondering how the classic debate of nature vs. nurture applies to people who enjoy fringe interests. Nowadays, the definition of a fringe interest is getting more specific and things that were considered geeky in my childhood have since become fairly conventional. Back in the day, reading or watching fantasy stories was dorky but now Game of Thrones is a completely mainstream TV show. Same with science-fiction. I definitely felt like I was on the outside of what was “normal” back in the 80s and 90s for my devotion to Star Trek, but today it’s not really that big of a deal. There are plenty of sci-fi properties that have achieved mainstream success, such as Westworld. Some might argue that these once off-the-beaten-path interests have been sanitized for the masses and aren’t really what they once were. The reboot of Star Trek is really just a bunch of action movies, while the source material was much more cerebral but I digress.

I want to know if I became obsessed with sci-fi (and Star Trek more specifically), because I was an introverted, shy, awkward kid, or am I a bit of a weirdo because I took to Trek? Do the unathletic kids start playing Dungeons & Dragons because they get picked last for dodgeball or do they stay indoors and thus avoid exercise because they are so into role playing games? Perhaps a bit of both.

I was a somewhat sickly child, and I’m naturally clumsy so I always preferred indoor activities… wait, no, this isn’t true. Now that I’m really thinking about it, I did a lot of playing outside when I was young. I always disliked disgusting things, like climbing trees, or difficult things, like climbing trees but I did plenty of swimming and bike riding and running around and building snow forts, like any regular kid. I also did a lot of drawing and playing other indoor games, but it’s only when I became a teenager and started to retreat from the world that my activities became predominantly sedentary. And yet my interest in sci-fi and fantasy came about way before that. Star Trek: the Next Generation premiered in 1987, when I was eleven years old and I was instantly hooked. But I was already very fond of my Princess Leia action figures and was wild about movies like the Dark Crystal. Then again, what kid didn’t like the Dark Crystal and Star Wars? Now that I think about it, Star Trek debuted at pretty much the same time my best friend moved away. I had a couple other friends but none I felt a strong connection with. As an introvert with social anxiety it’s always been very difficult for me to interact with others. When the friend I’d known since we were toddlers left, this might have pushed me further into my own world. TNG came along at the exact right time to fill the void left by my friend. Would I have become equally enamoured of Data and Deanna if my best friend hadn’t disappeared?

I’d like to think so. After all, my friend didn’t completely disappear. Though she’d changed schools, I could still see her on weekends, as she’d only moved to the next suburb over. So surely I was born a little on the geeky side and her presence in my life was irrelevant. And yet… I’m trying to remember what appealed to me as a child, and how much of it was innate, and how much was influenced by external factors, such as my mother. I remember once in kindergarten, my teacher making some sort of comment about the way I dressed. I didn’t understand the comment and asked my mother about it when I got home. She explained that my teacher was teasing me for always wearing very elaborate, girly dresses. I remained confused because I wasn’t dressing myself, my mother was dressing me, so surely it was invalid to mock me for these sartorial choices. I liked those dresses just fine, but I wasn’t choosing them. But what would I have worn if I could have chosen for myself? The same things perhaps. Maybe I’m wrong to blame those dresses on my mother. My wardrobe has changed much over the years, and I was quite dedicated to grunge in the ’90s, but today my closet looks like the Zooey Deschanel starter pack.

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But is my interest in pretty dresses authentic, or a result of my mother’s programming? I don’t know. What’s more certain is that she influenced my literary tastes. As a kid I read things like Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and Judy Blume’s oeuvre because those books were in the house. I never read fantasy or sci-fi as a kid, and still don’t, even though that’s my go to when it comes to television. Is this because I associate books with my mother the librarian and therefore veer towards more classic choices, while I associate TV with no one other than myself, thereby making those choices more authentically?

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I can’t be sure. I can’t even be sure that I really am a “nerd”. There is a meme currently going around that perfectly encapsulates this issue. People who aren’t geeky think of me as a geek. I distinctly remember a coworker once lamenting her own lackluster geekiness and wishing she could be as truly nerdy as me. I was struck by how odd that was as a comment, not only because it seemed strange to admire someone else’s inability to be normal, but also because I’m not really that nerdy. The truly hardcore nerds would likely deem me a poser. Really, other than watching shows set in alternate universes, what do I do that is truly unusual? In this day and age of the unconventional becoming conventional, do I even have the right to think of myself as out of the mainstream? Of course, no one should have to prove how “nerdy” they are. And it shouldn’t be a contest. Who cares how much someone likes a particular thing? It’s as though the hardcore nerds have absorbed mainstream society’s programming about how they are losers, and therefore, in order to win at something, anything, they shame others who aren’t as hardcore as them. If they can’t win at football, they’ll win at nerdyness.

I guess I suffer from this programming as well. I often criticize people or fiction for being pretentious and too try-hard but aren’t I myself, a try-hard when it comes to being “different”? Much of my self-identity, and self-worth, is built on the idea that I am not mainstream, that I am not plugged-in to social norms. That I am not that most dreaded of traits: Basic! But aren’t I? I do plenty of things that conform to modern society’s standards; I have a 9 to 5 job, I pay my taxes, I own property, I watch reality television, I shave my legs, I am in a stable, heterosexual, cisgendered relationship. And yet I don’t have kids and I’m not married. I tell myself I reject marriage because it is an institution built on the enslavement of women. But do I truly object to it this strongly, or am I just overcompensating to seem cool, if not to others, at least to myself?

I am forced to ask, what truly makes me different? And of those differences, which ones are charming quirks and which ones actually cause strife in my life? This is a topic worthy of further discussion, and I shall muse more at a future date. In the meantime, what do you think about my initial question, before I spiraled into my patented navel-gazing? Are nerds born or made?

 

Blue & Pink

“We want to go to the carnival!” squeal Pink and Blue. Their mother, Violet, smiles indulgently and hands them each a few coins so they can traipse down to the fair that has just set up shop in the heretofore empty field near their home. Once they’ve purchased their tickets, little Pink rushes over to the cotton candy stand, dragging her reluctant sister along. Blue insists she doesn’t need any candy but does accept the bites her sister offers. Then they’re off to the carousel where Blue sits on a dignified-looking swan, and Pink chooses a beautiful unicorn. Round and round they go, laughing with delight and pretending they are in a race, though both content to let the other be crowned the winner.

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They run off to enjoy more rides but Pink gets distracted by the fortune teller. Blue thinks this would be a waste of money, but Pink can see no harm in indulging in a little whimsy. Blue, always accommodating, gives in and sits patiently while Pink gets her fortune read, only rolling her eyes when her sister isn’t looking. They walk through the hall of mirrors holding hands, not because they are afraid to be separated, but because everything is more fun with a friend. Together they enjoy the bumper cars, the rollercoaster, and the tilt-a-whirl, but hesitate before going through the haunted house. They assure one another that they are not afraid and finally go through, giggling nervously. Pink takes it more seriously than Blue, and Blue protects her sister, assuring her that everything here is fake. They laugh at the ghosts and ghouls but both scream at the jump scares, then laugh some more.

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Finally they sit atop the Ferris wheel and swing their legs to make their seat shake, both enjoying the excitement of this carefully constructed danger. They ooh and aah at the vantage point this ride affords them, and peer at all the people below, who look like ants in a collective. Once home they regale their mother with tales of the carnival. Pink is a bit hyperbolic in her stories, and exaggerates how scared they were at the haunted house, and how high they were in the Ferris wheel. Blue is more reasonable and only tells the truth, yet is careful to omit the part where her sister overindulged in hot dogs and popcorn and threw up after the tilt-a-whirl. Once it’s bedtime, they tuck each other in and whisper long into the night about their exciting outing, and fall asleep with their heads touching.

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October 10, 1991

Thursday – I know I haven’t written in a really long time but hey.

                                      Usually when there are really long gaps in my journaling it’s because I’m too happy to write. I tend to only journal when I’m upset or depressed. But I doubt happiness is the reason for this particular gap.

Well, I like BHS a lot more than St-T, but there are still problems. Where to begin… I’m not popular and I will probably never have a boyfriend.

                                  Self-pity: check.

I entered an art contest and am doing a painting entitled Self Discovery.

                                Oh god, that sounds pretentious. I don’t remember that painting and let’s all be grateful for that.

I tried to be on the newspaper at school, but I missed the major meeting because I went on an art field trip and couldn’t make it, so I don’t know.

                            Interesting that I colour the truth even when writing to myself. I vividly remember the reason I missed that newspaper meeting and it wasn’t because of the art field trip. There was in fact a trip, that I did in fact attend, but it ended in plenty of time for me to make it back to school. I took the bus back, but because I’d never ridden public transportation before I didn’t know you have to ring the bell to be let off. I just kept waiting for the bus to stop, which it never did, and went way, WAY past the required bus stop. Eventually I realized that I’d missed the stop but by then I was paralyzed by anxiety, and too shy to ask the bus driver for help. I figured not being part of the school paper was a fitting punishment for this failure at correctly living life.

I’m failing math. There are extra things after school on Thursdays but I couldn’t go because of the painting. Mr. Math Teacher asked me if I could get help during other classes, but I don’t want to fall behind those either. So he called my house and now my mom is pressing me to stay after school but I don’t want to spend more time at school than necessary! The thing is I probably would have stayed once the contest was over and I could spare the time but I’m too stubborn to do that because I don’t want mom or Mr. M to think they influenced me. I want to do well on my own, but I just don’t understand math… SIGH.

                      Bullshit. I think I was failing math simply because it required the least bit of effort. I’m sure I could have done fine if I’d just tried. My proof for this is that I’d managed to do well in the past. At that age almost all schoolwork came easily to me so if something was even slightly difficult I just didn’t bother. Laziness born of melancholy I imagine. 

One night I had a dream about the show Beverly Hills 90210 (it’s a show that is really popular, but we don’t get it here). I wanted to see that show so bad that I dreampt I saw it. In the dream I met Jason Priestley (the star of 90210) and we were going out and stuff. Now I am obsessed with him. In a weird way I think I love him. Not in a fan way, I don’t have a bunch of pictures of him all over, I don’t swoon over his face (in fact I keep forgetting what he looks like) but it’s just a feeling deep inside. All the interviews and stuff I read about him, I don’t like his personality (a smoker and stuff) but I guess you can’t control your feelings. I’m hoping that if I win the contest (300$ prize) I will have confidence and stuff and will forget about him.

                      Wow. Thankfully that particular infatuation didn’t last long. I have no recollection of ever being into Jason freaking Priestley! Ugh.

I guess everything leads down to that stupid contest. (I also failed a history test because of lack of study time).

                        Why was I so obsessed with this art contest? I can’t for the life of me remember a single thing about it. I have to assume I was lying to myself in these diary entries, trying to blame my failures on something concrete, rather than on my more nebulous inability to take personal responsibility.

Oh well, life sucks. I wish I were more independent. If things don’t get handed to me easy I guess I’ll have to die young.

                           Lol. That’s some refreshing self-awareness there. Good thing I eventually got my shit together. Now people sometimes criticize me for being TOO independent!

P.S. I love M&R class. Mr. Taffenden is the coolest teacher.

                          M&R stands for Education Morale et Religieuse, also known as EMR, also known as MRE (Moral and Religious Education). It’s the class non-religious kids took back in the day when the Christians were taking Christianity. Is that still a thing? 

P.P.S. I cut my hair.

                            It’s now long again. I have come full circle 😉