Essay #2: One Thing I Wish I was Smart Enough to Understand

No one understands everything, but everyone wants to understand something. Spend a little time discussing one of those fascinating subjects which you just don’t get. Why does it interest you? What don’t you understand?

I don’t understand art. I’m not talking about conceptual art or postmodern art, or any of those strange art movements that nobody understands, but people pretend to in order to sound smart. I’m talking about plain ol’ regular, classical, art that anybody who has eyeballs can appreciate. I have been to numerous museums and art galleries, including the ROM in Toronto, the Met in New York City, and the Getty in Los Angeles. And in all those experiences, I just didn’t get it. My first priority at the Met was to take pictures on its steps pretending to be Blair Waldorf reading a Gossip Girl blast.

This is what they built the Met for, right?

When I did go inside the actual museum, my friends and I just went to the ancient Greek statues and took pictures of ourselves pointing at their genitals and laughing. Because we’re classy and mature like that.

Since I am fortunate enough to still have vision, I can understand when a picture is aesthetically pleasing. I can look at a Monet or a Van Gogh and say “oh that’s pretty”. But that’s it. I can’t get anything more out of a picture besides the fact that it’s pretty. That the sunset looks like a really nice sunset, as opposed to my painting of a sunset, which would just look like yellow paint threw up on a canvas, is the only thing about art that I understand separates the good from the bad. I look at art the same way a child watches The Lion King. A child can’t appreciate the film’s rich characters, plot, dialogue, or animation; the kid only knows it’s a good movie because Timon puts on a grass skirt and Pumbaa farts.

I think my problem is that I’m really unartistic. Something simple like putting together a nice outfit is practically impossible for me. My personal wardrobe consists of almost nothing but jeans and mono-coloured shirts. If I’m feeling feisty, the shirt will be a pattern of 2 or more colours, but that’s if I’m dressed to impress, or if all my other shirts are dirty. I dress so boringly because I don’t understand what colours and patterns work well together. I’m also really unobservant. I don’t notice small details like  make up, accessories, or shoes unless they are Lady-Gaga like in strangeness. Like how I never notice the details of what others are wearing, I don’t notice the details in a piece of art that make it special. I never notice how the shades and tones compliment or contrast, I don’t notice brush strokes, and I will even miss details related to what is happening in the picture, unless someone else points them out to me.

Another reason why I think I’m an art dummy is the fact that I get easily overwhelmed by visual stimulation (that sentence sounds a lot dirtier than I intended it to, but I’m too lazy to change it). Like many kids my age, I grew up playing a lot of Super Mario Bros on my NES. Unlike most kids, I found the experience extremely stressful. The 8-bit graphics on my TV were terrifying to me. It was sensory overload. By the time I was in fourth grade, and Nintendo 64 had become popular, I was in way over my head. 64 bit graphics? 3 DIMENSIONAL MARIO!? I could not focus on my television screen with that much complicated stuff happening on it. To this day, I have no interest in owning a PS3 or an XBOX 360 because the fancy graphics honestly make the games too difficult for me. I can’t appreciate good art because there is just too much stuff happening in it, and I can’t focus on it all at once.

Being this incapable of understanding art is a bit of a bummer, because I have friends who are so talented in this field, and I wish I could appreciate their work and have more to say about it besides, “Wow! That is really, really, pretty. I mean, really.” But at the end of the day, I think I’m just genetically inclined to be an art dummy forever.


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Essay 1: Who I Am

A credo of sorts. Who are you? What makes you tick? What ticks you off? What do you want out of life? What do you think life wants out of you?  Really, this one’s fairly open ended. Do with it what you will.

In discussing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions my professor, the wonderful Dr. Browning, mused that it takes a fair bit of arrogance to write a memoir. After all, you are not only devoting a substantial amount of time thinking and writing about yourself, but you are writing under the assumption that other people want to devote their time to reading about you. 

Thus, it is with hesitance that I attempt to write this essay about who I am. Shouldn’t I be doing something to actively help my fellow man, instead of thinking about the time I punched Jeremy Lyn in the face in the second grade*? Of course, writing this essay is notably different from writing a memoir. Considering the fact that I am starting this essay at 12:30 am the day after it is due, I am really not devoting too much of my time towards this project. And since this essay probably won’t surpass 1000 words, it won’t take too much of my reader’s time either. Nevertheless, I’m still cringing. 

After all, I don’t know a lot about me, and I don’t know if I’m worth a reader’s time. There are plenty of labels that can adequately describe aspects of me. “Artsci”. “Coptic Christian”. “Female”. “Supermodel”. But these seem incomplete and provide little value to my reader. And how I perceive myself may be entirely different from what others think of me. Aspects of myself that I think are adorable and quirky, may come off to the rest of the world as annoying and weird. I may walk around thinking I’m Jim Halpert, when in reality, I’m Michael Scott. And nobody would actually want to read Somehow I Manage**. 

So, how do I go about writing this essay? I guess I have to simply let go of my anxieties, accept the fact that I am participating in an act that is rather self-indulgent, and just get on with trying to write about myself. In attempting to do so, I’ve written and erased three very different paragraphs in this spot, and I guess that sums me up pretty well. I’m very much unaware of who I am and what I want in life, and there are at least three different versions of who I could be. One version of me lives her life in a middle class home in Mississauga, works in a small law firm, raises 2 kids, and spends as much of her spare time as possible teaching Sunday school. Another version of me works tirelessly around Canada advocating for First Nations rights. A third version of me lives in a rundown apartment in New York City or Toronto, teaching math by day, and writing awful sketch comedy by night. Hell, when I watch Friday Night Lights, I can even see a version of myself that lives in a small Texas town with my football coach hubby. And I barely understand football. Or Texas. 

My biggest struggle is in trying to somehow satisfy all of these versions of myself. I am a lazy person. And an unhealthy one. If I’m lucky, I have maybe 50 more years left in me. Sadly, I don’t think I can help First Nations Canadians, cheer on my local Texan football team, pop out two children, have a satisfying writing career, and teach Sunday School in Mississauga all at the same time. Nor do I think I would want to do all of these things in one lifetime, due to my aforementioned extreme laziness. So, what do I choose to do? And how do I prepare myself for the inevitable disappointment of not being able to accomplish all of these, or perhaps any of these, goals?

I don’t want to define myself by my career, because no matter where you work, your job sector thinks you are worthless once you reach a certain age (yay ageism!). I don’t want to define myself by accomplishments, because as anybody who has won an award knows, award-winning is months of work for about one or two days of actual happiness over winning. I don’t want to define myself by where I choose to live, because every location in the world has its advantages and disadvantages. One cannot find the friendliness of a small town and the liveliness of a big city all in one place.

I was raised, and continue to believe in a faith that says worldly accomplishments and material goods do not bring about joy. My faith tells me that the source of all good is God and that as long as I have God in my life, it doesn’t matter if I am a pencil pusher or president; I will be happy. Like with all things that require faith, it’s a struggle to remember and actively live out this mantra. But if I want to find myself content with my life, I have to learn to live my life in this way. I should want to answer the question “Who am I?” with the fact that I am someone with God, with a loving family, and with amazing friends, and it is in these relationships that I find fulfillment and joy. And as vague and idealistic as that sounds, it is probably the best I got.

I hope that my ~1000 word experiment into the world of memoir-writing has been of some interest to you dear reader. Given that it is now 2:48 am, this took me much longer than I thought it would, and is far less coherent than I was hoping it would be. But, I guess that is just another part of who I am: incoherent, jumping around from topic to topic, and always doing projects at the last minute. 

*I don’t actually remember punching Jeremy in the face. I just remember getting in trouble for punching Jeremy in the face. So, there is a small possibility that I was entirely blameless in that incident.  

**If you actually understood those last two sentences, you and I should be friends and should watch old episodes of The Office together.


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Nothing To See Here Folks (Yet)

The blog was looking very empty, so here’s an obligatory first post. The list of topics to write about has yet to be given to us, but I do hope Alec assigns us to debate and write about the merits of “Friday” compared to “My Jeans”. Just throwing it out there Alec.

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