23.5.12

In honnor of yesterday's holiday, World Goth Day, here is a post I wrote almost a year ago but never got around to posting...

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Last year, I took an English lit course on "Freaks". We examined how freaks are viewed in films and literature. We talked of circus freaks, and psychological freaks, but not the other kind of freak. The kind of freak that is hurled as an insult from one insecure teenager to another.
I'm a bit of an expert on the subject, as I was one.


I had a rough childhood. Rough in the white, middle class, sense of the word, that is. Socio economic priveldge or not, I still suffered. I was picked on mercilessly for my entire education. Starting in kindergarden, until grade 12. 
Along the way, I got sick of everybody treating me like a 'freak' for no reason. 
I was sick of feeling bad for it. Sick of wondering why people hated me so much. I'd try so hard to fit in, and i'd still be shunned. 
Finally, I caught a glimpse of the "in crowd" the first year of jr.high. My tormentors from elementary school gave me a break for the first month or so, as my "best friend" had started hanging out with the popular kids, they let me tag along for a little while too.
Then as I got closer, I realized, why was I trying so hard to be like these people, to get them to like me, when I didn't even like them? 
It's not like I walked away from popularity or anything. Pretty soon the popular kids realized they  didn't like me much either. I went back to being tormented.

I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside.
-Unlovable, The Smiths
So I decided to carve out a new image for myself. Instead of dressing in exactly what the cool girls did, which had at one point seemed so important to me, I decided to o the opposite. I started dressing like the people in my favorite bands did.


I could relate to them a hell of a lot better than I did to my peers, so I emulated them.
In their music I found comfort, I found hope. I realized there were other people out there who felt like me. I took comfort in their sad songs. Because I was sad. All the time. 




I reached a rebellious epiphany. If popular people tried so hard to be like everyone else, I would try just as hard to not be like everyone else.

So I dyed my (then blonde) hair black, to the horror of my parents, and started dressing in all black, to even greater horror of my parents. This change in appearance had them convinced that, before you know it, it'd be in a back alley somewhere with a needle in my arm. While in reality, I spent all my time outside of school holed up in our basement watching Tim Burton movies and listening to music, as I was a loner. And I revelled in it. I had finally found a way to own my outsider status, and worked to maintain it. The only friends I had were the ones I made online from band forums, and good ol' livejournal. 

I also looked a bit like a Tim Burton character, 'staring girl' during this time.

I liked that I started to scare people at school. I liked that now when people called me "freak" they had a reason to. 


I was finally in control of my otherness. And it felt good.
I didn't have any friends. I didn't need them. I was happier being on my own. Donned in black, listening to my favorite bands for comfort. I far preferred drawing or reading in the library over lunch instead of listening to inane gossip and tales about getting high over the weekend. 

Eventually, I dyed my hair red (crimson glow, to be exact), and started incorporating some pops of colour here and there in my wardrobe. 

And somehow, i've gotten to where I am today, style wise. 
Not afraid of colour anymore.


And sometimes, I think of dying my hair black again.
...if only it wasn't such a pain to get it back to red.

16.5.12

"I feel like that one Scrabble tile that has no letter on it".
-Douglas Coupland (Liz Dunn), Elanor Rigby

Inspired by Sometimes Sweet's Literate and Stylish series, i've decided to share my favorite book,  Elanor Rigby, by Douglas Coupland, and what this book means to me. I also blame the following on the fact that I am taking creative writing this semester, and it is causing me to reflect on my favorite books even more than I already do. We've been talking about what makes a person pick up a book and keep reading it. For me, I need to relate to the character to get something out of it. Somehow learn more about myself, or people in general. (I'm a sociologist, i'm fascinated by people.)



This is a book that I share no hesitation in proclaiming as my favorite. Ever since I read the first page years back, this book became a part of me. I feel like this book is me, in that I wholly relate to the protagonist, Liz Dunn, and in finding myself in her, I am able to learn more about myself.

I identify so wholly with the main character, Liz Dunn, that I feel as if Douglas Coupland looked inside my brain to my innermost thoughts, made sense of them, and arranged them more eloquently so that I could better make sense of myself. Liz's musings so closely mirror my own that reading them gave me an ecstatic euphoria. Finally, there was someone who understood the "endless brain-churning buzzing and second guessing and non-stop short-term planning that accompanies the typical lonely life". 

This is the first time i'd ever come across anything exploring loneliness. Which, Coupland perfectly describes as "our species' curse-it's the gun that shoots the bullets that make us dance on a saloon floor and humiliate ourselves in front of strangers". He really explores all it's facets and implications of living a lonely life in this work.



By nature, i'm an introspective introvert. I naturally gravitate towards spending my time alone. Being a social outcast throughout my life has only further exacerbated this 'problem'. Though, as I get older, I begin to see that being a 'loner', is not my problem, but rather, that of societies.

Elanor Rigby has helped me to see this, being able to relate my experiences to what I read on the page. This past semester I wrote an essay on the healing power of confessional poetry, and the following excerpt helps to succinctly make sense of the power in reading of one's experiences on the page. While it is speaking to poetry, I find the same to be true of any creative work, such as (in this case) novels, or films, etc.



Poetry is giving sound and rhythm to silence, to darkness, giving it a shape, turning it to light. When we read a poem that speaks to our experience, there is a shift, a click within. Someone has understood our darkness by naming their own. We feel less alone. Therapeutically, the "I" of us gathers energy and insight. Our world expands.


While I can't get into any book without finding some kind of connection to who is on the page, I have never experienced such a succinct similarity as I have with Liz. I read this book fresh out of high school, the summer after grade twelve. While I was (and still am) younger than it's protagonist, i've always felt an 'old soul' and saw myself in the thirty four year old office worker more than any other protagonist i've come across. Though, to his credit, I can strongly relate to several other of Coupland's characters, the most predominately (after Liz) being Bethany, from The Gum Theif.


Though the one difference between Liz Dunn and I is that while she tries to blend in, I do everything I can to stand out. Since I don't fit in down to my very core, since I feel so internally and fundamentally different from others, I try to reflect that in how I present myself. From when I dyed my hair and dressed in all black through my teen years to dying my hair bright red now, and dressing in bold colours and patterns. (Of which I blame partly on my middle child syndrome of attention depravation.) It's also a way to weed through people, by taking my inner turmoil and manifesting it on the outside, people that are unworthy are less likely to approach, and I don't have to worry about getting hurt.



However, more than just finding myself on the page, Coupland excells at taking real characters, everyday people that happen to go through extraordinary circumstances. I don't want to give away what Liz goes through, incase you haven't read the book, but I will say what I love about it. While, out of this world and extraordinary, what these character's go through feels so realistic due to the honesty of the characters. (Another great example of this is Coupland's, Girlfriend in a Coma).


While I know this isn't a book blog (is that even a thing?) I just wanted to share this wonderful book, and how very much it means to me. As the years have gone by (5 since I first picked up this book), I've only grown closer and more in love with this book. It is what I turn to most when i'm in need of comfort, experiencing what Liz explains as, "time sickness"...


But thanks to this book, all I have to do is read these words to remember that 'this to, shall pass'. As you can see from these photos this book is marked up it's fair share. Nearly half the pages are dog-eared to more easily find a source of comfort and wisom when I have what Liz calls a "loneliness blizzard, those sweeps of loneliness that feel not just emotional but medical". 


So I guess what i'm saying here, is that this book is a testament to what I personally love about literature. That I can find myself in someone else, though yes, Liz Dunn is a fictional character, I am able to find some comfort in that her author, Douglas Coupland must feel some degree of what she does, and has survived it. Which comforts me to no end. 

And yes, this post is much longer than I had originally intended.

8.5.12

Bloggers Block

Oh what a bad blogger I've been. I feel like all I do lately is write these "I've been such a bad blogger" posts, but lately it seems that's all I can do.

Life has been kicking my ass the past little while. I'm trying my best to fight back, but some things have fallen by the wayside.

Like this blog. This blog that empowers me. That helped me find my voice. That (through lovely comments I have received) i know has helped others. I need to get that back. I just have to figure out how.

This is by no means a goodbye. Just a "stick with me"?

I just need to find that juice again. That spark inside, that right now, while barely alight, is still there. It is not yet extinguished.
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