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“So, I spent most of the day seriously considering whether or not I was a knob,” Graham laughed when I told him this, which was a relief, and so I put a mental check in the ‘not a knob’ column.

“You’re not a knob,” he claimed, and he seemed sincere enough, I suppose. “You know, you go out to the bars or out in public and you spend all this time worrying about what other people think of you, but when you stop and think about it, everyone else is way too busy worrying what people actually think of them. We’re all just walking around totally paranoid that everyone else is looking at us. It’s fucked up,” and I agreed. “Every now and then I kind of open the door to the question of ‘What do they really think of me?,’ but it’s like a bunch of screaming lunatics in there, so I quickly slam the door shut. You can’t worry about it.”

We’re a culture that carries on a semi-serious debate about whether or not there’s such a thing as aliens trespassing on our planet in their little metal machines, just so they can scrutinize our earthly goings on. Clearly it’s well ingrained in us that we ought to be concerned whether or not people are watching. This theme tracks back to early childhood when we’re warned of Santa’s omniscience, “he’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…” You are being watched, Kiddies. Always be on your best behaviour. For those of us raised in a religious setting, need I even go into the stories we’re fed about God? Suffice it to say, we’ve come by it honestly enough.

And now there’s this Facebook (or as a friend so eloquently put it, Facefuck) thing that sees to it we remain abnormally aware of ourselves, and how we ought to be posturing/presenting in case someone is watching. Our obsessive voyeurism, and simultaneous fear of being victimized by voyeurism is messed, big-time.

When I was an adolescent girl, I remember my Mother ameliorating my anxieties about my characteristics, idiosyncrasies, and overall personality by repeating to me, “Cynthia, what other people think of you is none of your business.” Now, my Mom said a lot of crazy shit to me when I was growing up, some of it bad, a lot of it good, and after careful analysis, I’ll chalk this one up as good. When I have days like I did yesterday, where I spent most of it holed up in my room, under the covers, wallowing in the endless maybes, what ifs and shoulda, couldas, I will hear my Mother’s voice reminding me to fuck off and stop caring about shit I can’t control. Chances are everyone else is diligently scrolling through their own litany of unique insecurities.

Finally, I smartened up, pulled myself out of bed, threw on some clothes, went to Shopper’s Drug Mart, and bought myself some perfume and ridiculous nail polish. I don’t even wear nail polish, but I was compelled to purchase a fancy, schmancy shade of sparkling turquoise. I guess there was a time I would’ve avoided actually sporting it because it’s so flash, and I’d be worried about what people might think. I could imagine their narration, “Oh, nice one, random girl, way to go and wear real dumb and ugly nail polish that makes you look like one of Jem’s Holograms. You’re definitely in my ‘knob’ column. You know, that running tally I keep of all the people I encounter in a day – those that passed the test and those that didn’t?” Needless to say, I marched right over to my Mom’s house, (the inspiration, the woman who, in her own special way, always persuaded me to be me), and got her to paint it right on there. Booyah. Bling, bling, bitches!

Today was a little more easy-going. I guess I got something out of the way with yesterday’s melancholy, although I don’t recommend it. The next time I’m tempted to crack open the door to the question of “I wonder what they really think?” and I think I hear a bunch of shouting maniacs, I’ll remember we’re each grimly spinning in our own diffident tornadoes.  No one is really shouting at me after all…

January 2010
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