Happy New Year everyone and it’s an honour to be the last story of 2017, despite how dreadful this year has been. Raise a glass to 2018; live long, prosper… all of that!
As a child, I had a problematic relationship with gender. By problematic, I mean No Relationship At All. Perhaps different familial circumstances would have produced different results, but alas: I was the first child of my generation. With only a younger sister and no males to be placed in opposition to, I was raised by parents who raised a child, not a girl.
Even if Emily Post hasn’t quite got round to adding a chapter on it, there are unspoken rules to social media. They boil down to Wil Wheaton’s motto: “Don’t be a dick.”
Here are a few:
2. Don’t start comment wars over something irrelevant.
3. Don’t invite me to play Candy Crush.
4. And definitely don’t invite me to your friend’s nephew’s private school fundraiser.
5. Don’t trick yourself into believing passive-aggressive comments somehow give you depth.
6. Don’t carry on conversations that really should be private in a place where they clog up a feed.
7. And definitely, DEFINITELY don’t bring up non-work-related Facebook information in a crowded workplace environment.
That is what Facebook has become. It is no longer that small enclave of the internet where you can connect with new genuine friends and reconnect with old genuine friends. That now seems to be Tumblr. Is is no longer that place where you can expose your immense wit and intelligence (or lack thereof) through the sheer power of typing then pressing enter. That is now Twitter.
Facebook is now the place where we try to put our best selves. It’s so carefully curated that to expect a Facebook page to be an accurate representation of a person is to expect the Louvre to be an accurate representation of history. No one’s life is as awesome as they make it seem. They’ve edited out the long, boring nights they spend watching television.
Sometimes I think how you remember your childhood varies with how much time has passed since. Each year adds another coat of paint tempered with pop culture and shifting perspectives. Childhood takes on this orange hue, as if a perpetual summer. One coloured with the clichés we remember from movies: bare feet, tire swings, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks – how much of childhood seems to revolve around water? It’s as though youth finds itself in something at once both primordial and perpetual in its motion.
“Childhood” – when remembered as such – is just these images. They are probably not even our own. We have to think further to connect childhood to something. Time comes back in fragments. These are the “stories.” These are the pieces you slot together into a puzzle that can never really be completed. Do you ever start talking to an old friend or family member and they come out with an old story in which you are the protagonist that you have absolutely no memory of? It feels like someone else’s life. It’s a piece to the puzzle, but one you don’t feel comfortable fitting in because it doesn’t connect to anything else. It’s just this lonely jigsaw shape floating about in your life.
A while ago, my uncle told a story of toddler me that my parents didn’t even know: he took me for a walk and – toddling about as toddlers do – I found a small rock that I tried to push through a storm drain. When it didn’t fit through the grate, I kept pushing, punctuating each attempt with a “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” I guess I was able to take this “new old story” as my own because I can still relate to it today.
But these fragments, these pieces, become clichés – clichés like: bare feet, tire swings, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, and the colour orange – because that’s what we need as an anchor.
I’ve recently had the chance to join an interesting project by Allison Lasorda.
The Re:moved Project is “an interactive visual narrative project that features individuals’ experiences with home. by examining unique perspectives on homes that have been “lost” (whether through relocation, demolition, or (re)construction) this project aims to remove the stigma associated with nostalgia and, possibly, to provide comfort by allowing constructive participation in it.”
Is it just me or are they stuffing fewer and fewer chocolate-covered almonds into those door-to-door peddled boxes these days? Perhaps I am just siphoning nostalgia back from the days when we sold actual chocolate bars.
I was at my parents’ house the other day when I heard a rapping, rapping at the chamber door. It was an eight-year-old boy who reminded me of Gil, the hopeless salesman from The Simpsons.
My first crush was on Bruce Springsteen.
I was young. Very young.
These were the days when all I wore all day, every day, was my one-size-fits-all Batman t-shirt.
My dad had Born in the U.S.A. on cassette tape and used to play it repeatedly in the car whenever we drove anywhere. Mostly because he loved it. But also because this was the eighties and everyone used to play that album repeatedly. Except for the Prince fans.
I loved Bruce Springsteen before I even understood music.
Moving out of my childhood home was a gradual process. I’m a gradual process person. Not cold turkey; a “weaner”, if you will. When things happen suddenly, I forget Douglas Adams’s best advice…. (Read: I panic.)
I get stuck in an odd state of shock only calculable as a sick ratio beyond my mathematical skills that involves variables such as “deer,” “headlights,” “fans” and lots and lots of “shit.” There’s something within that state of shock which is the quintessential form of denial. Like Pure Extract of Denial, if you will. It’s this core belief that somehow, somewhere deep within this giant cesspool of bullshit, there is a safe place. There is still somewhere where you can go where you float freely in some kind of womb-like structure. But that doesn’t really exist, does it? But were we ever to let go of this deep-seeded belief, we’d surely go insane. We have no choice. We must believe. (I think I’m on to something here, regarding the foundation of religion and other myth-making, but that’s really beyond the scope of my blogging escapades at 2.45 on a Friday afternoon.)