Blue, Black & Grey

Casual, chic, elegant. No one can take issue with blue, black, and grey. A somber palette perhaps, but one without fault. Appropriate for early spring, when everything is still dead, but beginning to regenerate.

blueblackgreyboard1

A black turtleneck top with flouncy cap sleeves implies that I’m about to order a café au lait, even though I don’t drink coffee. This top is much more French than I am, even though I was born in France. It was given to me by an American because she felt she was even less French, and thus unable to wear it in earnest.

blueblackgreyboard2

The grey A-line midi skirt with black floral detailing is perfect for a stroll through a second-hand book fair, but I read all my books on kindle, so I usually wear this skirt while plotting revenge.

Turquoise tights add a touch of whimsy to this otherwise classic ensemble, making the whole thing appropriately twee for a grown-ass woman with a Twilight Sparkle keychain.

blueblackgreyboard3

The entire outfit says, yes, I am overdressed for brunch, but let me have this, I have so very little else.

 

April 17, 1992

Boy, I haven’t written in this thing for a long time. I mean it’s 1992!

                                               And thank goodness it isn’t 1992 anymore.

Well, lots has happened of course but I’ve decided that… from now on I’m only going to write my dreams and feelings in here and forget about things that happen (unless it’s really relevant and important). I just read everything I wrote in here and it brought back a lot more bad memories than good ones.

                                              Yeah, I get that.

God, was I ever obsessed with having a boyfriend! In it somewhere I said I thought maybe I loved Jason Priestly. Give me a break, I never loved him! Then I “loved” Taffy, how pathetic. Well I am not obsessed with Taffy anymore although I still like him just in a friend way.

                                           Remember, we’re talking about my teacher here.

I am attracted to him but let’s not be so unrealistic. I have come to see that I always like guys that could never possibly like me, or rather guys that I could never have a relationship with. Like celebrities, Taffy, Tim (a guy in my art class), and most recently Sean Patrick Flanery (from Young Indy). They are all impossible relationships. I never like guys that could really be.

                                           Wait, why am I equating Tim from art class with celebrities? How exactly was some kid I went to school with on the same level as a famous actor? 

The most possible is that guy in my art class, but he’s the one I like the least. He started by always sitting next to me in class and talking to me so I thought he liked me but I never responded so I guess he lost interest.

                                            Yeah, typical me. I only realize people are into me in retrospect. By the time I catch on, they’ve moved on.

But I think I didn’t respond because I am afraid of having a relationship. The closest thing I ever had to potential for a boyfriend was that whole thing from Jane’s boyfriend blind group date thing.

                                              I’m talking about a blind date I went on where I was set up with my friend’s boyfriend’s friend about a year prior. Very interesting that I don’t go into more detail about that night, and subsequent hang-outs with the same squad, which were pure agony of social anxiety hell. I still remember it vividly though. We went to see Tremors, and then we walked around holding hands because my date and I felt like we were supposed to, even though neither one of us had any interest in the other. I recall my friend Jane telling me she set me up with this particular guy because we were both blonde, and therefore sure to get along. Makes sense. All blondes share a hive-mind after all.

But I didn’t respond. I want relationships only in my fantasies. Anything too real and I get scared. 

                                              Holy shit, remarkable insight for little 15-year-0ld me. 

Which is really too bad because I really need some love. I need arms to hold me when I cry… 

                                            Hilarious that I start this entry by shaming myself for being obsessed with wanting a boyfriend, and then proceed to talk about how much I want a boyfriend.

I want somebody to love, and love me. Namely Sean P.F. He is my latest desire. He fills the face of my fantasy men. I wish I could meet him. I hope he has a good personality…I think he’s great, even if he is American.

                                          Lol! Way to end on a xenophobic note there, young me. 

Blue & Brown

Brown is a good soldier. She blends in, stays neutral, keeps her head down and does her work, making an effort never to stir the pot. And yet, some still find her offensive simply due to her appearance, simply due to her very nature. Brown is ugly, they say, she serves no purpose. Brown is meant to blend in, and if deployed in anything other than a shoe or a belt, she is deemed too much, and even then, somehow, not enough.

bluebrownboard1

It’s no wonder Brown is often melancholy. She is perpetually tired, always working hard to keep things together, to be supportive of more eye-catching colours, yet taking the blame whenever a situation is deemed unsuccessful. But she’s also tired because she’s sick of it. Sick of being at once overlooked and over blamed.

Blue on the other hand is everyone’s favourite. People just can’t get enough of Blue. She’s popular but never boastful about it. She’s everyone’s friend, a true friend, genuinely supportive, and giving. When Navy, she is a great neutral, offering assistance where it is needed. And yet, as Azure, or Cobalt, or any number of other shades she takes the spotlight, and shines brightly. She can pull focus and yet never steals the spotlight. She’s simply good. Which is why it hurts her to see her friend Brown so abused.

bluebrownboard2

Blue takes Brown by the arm, and guides her outside. No hiding in the shadows today, Brown. They walk through the city, taking in the sights, noticing how much brown brick holds up the urban landscape, and stopping for coffee, everyone’s favourite brown drink, and then for chocolate, the most beloved of all brown foods. Their journey takes them to a park, where brown sees herself in the dirt underneath her feet. I will always be walked on, she muses. You are the earth, notes Blue. You hold us all up, and you allow our sustenance to grow. Look at yourself in the bark of the trees that pump out our oxygen, and in the fur of the squirrels that hunt for food among the nuts blending into the ground. You are everywhere, you are everything, you are life itself. Brown smiles, and looks up to the canopy, and beyond. High above it all is her friend Blue, in the sky, blanketing everything below. Everything is going to be okay.

bluebrownboard3

What makes me different, and why do you care?

“There are those whose own vulgar normality is so apparent and stultifying that they strive to escape it. They affect flamboyant behavior and claim originality according to the fashionable eccentricities of their time. They claim brains or talent or indifference to mores in desperate attempts to deny their own mediocrity. These are frequently artists and performers, adventurers and widelife devotees. Then there are those who feel their own strangeness and are terrified by it. They struggle toward normalcy. They suffer to exactly that degree that they are unable to appear normal to others, or to convince themselves that their aberration does not exist. These are true freaks, who appear, almost always, conventional and dull.”

This is an excerpt from the novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. It is a quote by Arturo, a charismatic and intelligent but manipulatively malevolent boy in a carnival freak show with various deformities who becomes the leader of a cult of people eager to mutilate themselves to be part of his posse. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it, but this passage in particular stood out to me as I read it when I was musing on exactly this topic. I recently wrote about whether nerds are born or made, and questioned if it was even valid for me to consider myself a nerd, since I’m not really that far out of the ordinary. I often decry what I perceive as mainstream and basic, but in many ways I conform to standard norms.

So am I a “norm” shouting into the wind, trying to convince others that I’m interesting, or am I a freak, painting on a happy face everyday and pretending to blend in? I suspect that for me, and for most people, the answer is a bit of both.

So what makes me different from the norm, and why does society at large even have an opinion on those differences?

  • I’m a nerd
    • Or am I? I don’t know, but what I do know is that any stigma I’ve felt throughout my life for being nerdy has been self-imposed. Anytime anyone has tried to bully me I’ve shut that shit down quick, and even those few attempts had nothing to do with my geeky interests. I think I internalized the 80s and 90s pop-culture message that sci-fi was dorky and therefore I was a dork, even though no one in real life ever gave me a hard time for it. If anything, people have admired me for it, although in a rather patronizing “you like the Star Trak, how cute!” kind of way.
  • I’m an “artist”
    • I always feel like I have to apologize when I use the word artist, hence the quotation marks on the word above. Referring to myself as an artist makes me cringe because I find it pretentious and self-aggrandizing. And yet, I’m unfulfilled unless I’m creating. I’ve just written a huge essay exploring my so-called artistry, but I’ve now pasted it into a separate blog post for another day, because I felt I was veering from the topic at hand. What is relevant for the moment is how our society seems to simultaneously admire and deride artists. We are celebrated for our innovation but also punished for colouring outside of the lines. Creatives are seen as bright and original, but also flighty and impractical. Again, I’ve been a victim of my own perceptions in this matter, as I quit art school because I found the environment too hippy-dippy for my taste. I also recently ran as far as I could from an employment opportunity at this same art school because I know that the art world is disturbingly political. As with every single other industry in the world, it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters, and for some reason I can’t accept that when it comes to art. So I am constantly torn between wanting to be a part of that world, feeling unworthy of it, and feeling disdain for it.
  • I’m unmarried and I don’t have kids
    • I live in Quebec, where, perhaps due to the Quiet Revolution, there is very little stigma to being unmarried. There is still a stigma to being single, but living in a common-law relationship without being married isn’t really that big of a deal. I’ve had to deal with many questions about my marital status, but I’ve never felt harshly judged for being unmarried. Since I have access to the internet, I know that the pressure to be married is much higher in the rest of Canada, and certainly the rest of the world. Still, the wedding industrial complex is alive and well here, and I know I’m outside of the norm for being unmarried.
    • What I don’t know is why I’m so adamant about remaining unmarried. Is it because there’s no such thing as a feminist marriage, or because I simply like being different? I definitely believe that marriage is (generally speaking) oppressive to women, but I also know that I am rather judgmental towards others for their marital choices. I tend to assume that people who elope are getting married for the “right” reasons, while those who have massive, elaborate weddings are only doing it for status, and that’s an unfair assumption. It’s rather hypocritical of me to be annoyed by society’s judgments towards my marital status if I’m going to be so smug about those same choices.
    • As much as Quebec culture seems cool with me being unmarried, no one seems cool with me being childless. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t rehash it here, but the question remains: why do people care about other people’s procreative proclivities? I believe part of the answer is that having children is a natural instinct. We are biologically hardwired to spawn, so anyone who is able to overcome their programming is a threat to those who can’t. It’s the same reason people get so upset when you call them out on their ethically questionable behaviour. When people are behaving in ways that feel natural to them, they get offended when you point out the problematic nature of such behaviour, because it feels as though you are attacking them as a person, rather than the one act you had a problem with.
  • I’m an atheist
    • Again, living in Montreal, this isn’t that big of a deal. For a city renowned for it’s abundance of churches, we are pretty chill when it comes to religion, or lack thereof. I actually went to Catholic school as a kid for reasons of convenience so various people, from fellow students to staff nuns, have tried to convert me but they were never overly aggressive about it. In fact, I’ve found it more amusing than annoying, like the time a former boss forced us to pray in what was essentially a staff meeting – the sheer inappropriateness of this action was so unbelievable that I had to laugh. Yet even though I’ve never felt personally attacked for my atheism I know that in other parts of the world, even the developed world, like the States, atheism is not just taboo but even illegal, and this stuns me. Much like with spawners, I think this comes down to the fragile egos of the believers. If you feel secure in your own beliefs, why would you even care what others believe?
  • I avoid the sun
    • I have pale skin. Between my Scandinavian/Anglo-Saxon/Germanic heritage and my anemia I’m about two shades paler than transparent. So why is everyone always so shocked that I don’t sun-bathe? I cover up in the summer as though I’m entering a situation where one might be exposed to cancer causing radiation, which is EXACTLY what one is doing every time one goes out in the sun!!! Why don’t people get this? Not one single summer has gone by in my life where someone hasn’t felt the need to comment on my vampire gear. But at least once I explain the situation they seem to understand, if not agree.
  • I’m a teetotaler
    • The term teetotaler isn’t quite right to describe what I am, because teetotalism is abstinence from alcohol, while I abstain from all recreational drug use, even caffeine. In the past I’ve called myself straight-edge for lack of a better term but that one carries a lot of connotations I don’t jive with so I can’t really use that label either. No matter, the point is that I don’t do drugs.
    • Interestingly, of all my personality quirks, or personal life choices, the one to abstain from drugs and alcohol has caused me the most problems in my life. It really, REALLY seems to bother other people that I don’t get shit-faced every night. Every time I’ve gone out with friends or coworkers, they have asked why I’m not drinking, and when I say I don’t drink alcohol, they get very befuddled. I could now explain why I don’t drink but honestly I don’t see why it matters. Why do people need a reason? Why can’t they just accept it? I think the answer is similar to why religious people want to convert non-believers, and why parents want the child-free to hurry up and spawn. Misery loves company. Whenever people feel somewhat uncomfortable with their own behaviours they work extremely hard to get others to jump on that bandwagon. Everyone who drinks, I’ve observed, feels slightly ashamed about it, so when they find out that I’ve managed to go my whole life without indulging, they feel like they have somehow failed, and they, in a projecting kind of way, feel as though I am judging them. Honestly, I am judging them, just as I, and everyone else, judges everyone for everything all the time, ’cause that’s what humans do. But I don’t have some sort of alcoholics burn book where I decry all drunks as baddies or something. I honestly don’t care that much about your habits, and you shouldn’t care that much about mine.
    • I will admit however, that peoples’ extreme reactions to my teetotalism have lessened over time, and I think this is due to my age. As women age, we become increasingly invisible. Women are primarily valued for their sexual availability and submissiveness, so a sober young woman is a problem, whereas a middle-aged woman is of little interest regardless of her sobriety.
  • I’m fragile and sickly
    • I’ve talked before about my anemia, and my resulting inability to travel because of it, but aside from consistently being picked last in gym, it hasn’t caused me any social problems. My supposed mental illness however…
    • I’ve always sort of privately believed that anyone who claims to be mentally ill couldn’t possibly have a real problem, because people who are genuinely mentally ill seem to be unaware of it – aggressively unaware – in the sense that they deny, deny, deny because they are so desperately clinging to their perception of normalcy. It’s like the quote from Geek Love, which opened this blog post: those who are different just want to be normal, and those who are normal just want to be special. My point is that I’ve never fully allowed myself to acknowledge any mental illness on my part because I’m not that bad, which by my own logic means I am ill, except I feel like a poseur when I say I am. I’m not medicated, and compared to most people I know I’ve definitely got my shit together, so I’m fine, right? Yes, I get depressed on a regular basis, but it’s situational rather than clinical depression. I most certainly have social anxiety, and yes, this has caused me much strife in my life, but I don’t get panic attacks or anything so really, I just should shut up about it and move on. But this dismissiveness about my own issues is perhaps evidence that I remain a victim of my stoic upbringing which equated any emotional, mental, or physical vulnerability with weakness. My mother has role-modeled the belief that the best way to treat a broken bone is to put increased pressure on it, and my father seems to be incapable of understanding that it is normal for humans to express emotions, and that mental illness is even a thing. He doesn’t get that people who are not him have different capabilities from him, and that just because he can do something doesn’t mean other people necessarily can.

But most of us are like this, aren’t we? We are all familiar with the adage that recommends we walk a mile in another’s shoes to understand their experience, but most of us are unwilling or unable to do this because we literally cannot. Unless you’ve been through something it is absolutely impossible to truly understand what that experience feels like. And even two people who have been through the same thing have experienced it differently based on their previous life-experience and personality. In the end, we’re all unique, singular snowflakes, who are all exactly alike. We’re all human and humans are all basically the same, yet within that sameness is a world of difference. We’re all going through shit that makes us ponder our existence and drown our sorrows in our vice of choice. We all do things we feel ashamed of and think are weird, that are actually completely mundane, and then casually do other things that we don’t even realize are aberrant.

So what about you? What’s your “thing”?

Black & Blue

Black has always been assured of her power, and feels unwaveringly comfortable taking control of any situation. After doling out advice to her friend, Green, she smugly carries on with her week, supremely confident that she’s always right. She meets up with Blue for cocktails at VIP night at the Fine Arts museum, where they discuss the merits of various so-called masters. They are both calm and collected in their arguments and are both capable of seeing all sides of an issue. Blue favours the impressionists, while Black enjoys abstract expressionism but they both acknowledge that the other makes good points.

blackblueboard1

Black, still proud of the points she had illuminated for Green, brings up the subject of beauty with Blue. She reiterates her view that there is virtue in recognizing the beauty within that which is typically considered ugly. Blue nods in understanding, acknowledging that one must always search for the light in all situations, as everything and everyone is imbued with both darkness and light. Yes, but it’s not a matter of searching for the light, it’s a matter of being comfortable with the dark, says Black. Certainly, agrees Blue, but wisdom comes from finding the light within the dark.

blackblueboard2

That’s a little unfair, pouts Black, for the first time, perhaps ever, unnerved. Easy for you to say that wisdom comes from the light, since you can merge with white and become pastel, yet remain blue, but white added to me is grey, which is quite distinct from black. Sensing Black’s sensitivity at always being perceived as the bad guy, Blue elaborates on her point. There is wisdom in the light, in the brightness within all things, but darkness reveals truth. When we dig the deepest, when we peel away the layers and reveal the underbelly, this is when we discover what is most real, and then, and only then, can we choose our path, and walk towards the light. Still suspecting that she is somewhat under attack, Black nevertheless knows that this is as good as it’s going to get for her. Blue will never lie, and if she truly believes that the correct path is that of the light, then Black won’t argue. Agree to disagree, she smiles slyly.

blackblueboard3

November 29, 1991

Friday. The dream I had last night was so weird… 

                                              I wrote out a long dream, but it’s not that interesting so I’ll spare you. The take home is that it was an anxiety dream of sorts, and perhaps one of my first instances of semi-lucid dreaming. The same scene kept happening over and over – an old lady trying to kill my mother and I – and I kept replaying it, each time more successful until finally I managed to get her to the police and escape. It was also one of the first times I dreamed in French. What’s more interesting than the dream itself was my penmanship as I was writing it down. My handwriting gets increasingly sloppy to the point where I had trouble reading it. It seems I felt it was very important to transcribe the dream, so I guess it had a big effect on me.

Friday, December 20, 1991

X-mas vacation began today. I have lots to say. That rhymes! (Taffy stuff, candy gram, crush development…)

                                        Oh god, here we go.

Did I ever talk about Taffy before? Well that’s Robert Taffendon my homeroom, History & EMR teacher. He is wonderful! First the candy gram story. It all began with me first comeing to the school. He always tells stories and he sometimes mentions his wife. Jane and I always pictured his wife as a blonde bombshell (I guess because he is a blonde babe). Every day at school we would see Mr. Taffendon with this other teacher (Mrs. Laventholl or something) so we were like, hmmm, he is always with that lady, she must be his mistress. Well one day in one of his stories he revealed that she was his wife. Jane and I thought this was hilarious (although we were disappointed). So every time Taffendon would pass by our table at lunch we would crack up. We dubbed him Taffy and her Missy, by the way. Before x-mas they were doing the candy gram thing. So we sent one to Taffy explaining why we always laugh at him. He thought it was hilarious and he loved it. Now I would like to think that I have this special, unique, student-teacher bond with him.

                                      Cringing. Nice of him to play along and pretend something so inane was funny though.

I really like Taffy. At first I had fantasies about him so I thought it was a crush. I guess it still is somewhat. I have the utmost admiration for that man. I always feel happy when I’m around him and I miss him already. I thought of going to school today just to see him but then decided not to get up early if I didn’t have to. He is going to Florida for x-mas (I think he’s Jewish). Jane is going too! I hope she gets some pictures of him so I can have some and put one in that thing I am making him for the end of the year. (a 1991-1992 memorabilia of Taffy.). Earlier in this diary I wrote that I wanted the perfect guy. Well, I have found what I think is the closest thing to it, but he can’t be my boyfriend because he is at least 24 years older than me, he is my teacher, he is married and has a child. It truly makes me sad to think I can never have him for my own. Maybe I do love him. I guess I’ll never know!

                                     Part of me thinks this is hilarious and part of me is crippled with embarrassment. I do distinctly remember Taffy but not what he looked like. I just googled him in an effort to remember but there are no pictures readily available. I did find him on ratemyteachers.com and found that he was still teaching at BHS up until a few years ago and kids still love him. He really was a great teacher, and I guess the novelty of such a thing fueled my infatuation. By then he was probably used to kids crushing on him and was completely unfazed. One of my clearest memories of him is a time I was the first one to come to class. I sat at my desk and he asked me how I was. I replied that I was fine. He said that I didn’t have to lie, that I didn’t have to say the expected pleasantly and could answer honestly if I wasn’t really fine. I guess he could tell that I was an unhappy kid. I don’t remember what I replied but that interaction always stuck with me. I really appreciated an authority figure giving me permission, if you will, to be authentic.