So many years ago now, it's sometimes hard to understand, or 2007, depending on whom you ask, I began taking a blade to paper. This is not the 2007 version.
I've always been a big fan of arts and crafts. The times in which I really excelled in school came before the years of Texas History. Yes, Texas history is taught in schools in Texas. And yes, I took multiple years of Texas history. And no, I don't remember any of it. Well, I remember two names, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Mexico! Many Cool-Sounding Names!) and James Bowie (who seemed fictitious in every way imaginable, and thus, awesome).
But before any of that, all assignments were based around making things. The learning was ancillary to the scale model, diorama, puppet, or BOARD GAME that you made. But as we began to celebrate a bunch of dudes in raccoon hats losing a battle at a fort turned rental car company, this was no longer allowed, and all sense of wonder walked out the door and school fell flat like a pool toy neglected in the summer sun. Consequently or coincidentally anything with a sense of play got a lot more interesting, and I looked to sega and soccer games to get my fix .
I was a popular kid until I was 10. What exactly that means, not even I'm sure, but I'll tell you this to help contextualize things. I was once pulled aside by a very sweet and well-wishing teacher who knew my mom, and given a talk about hanging out with the right kids and being careful about whom I spent my time with. I was told I could make friends with anyone there, and that it was a choice.
I got two readings on that. ONE, I think she was projecting on some of the kids I was friends with, assuming that they were going to become gang banging thugs, which I'll have to do some research, but I'm pretty sure was some hardcore Texas-nose-in-other-people's-business-fret-based-substitute-parenting. And TWO, what she said probably had the roots of truth to it, as I had become obsessed with acquiring Scrooge McDuck vaults of stuff and money and certainly acted cruel towards kids left and right who didn't fit into my wheelhouse (which I'm imagining as either a ferris wheel-shaped apartment complex, where like an elevator, you press a button to be moved to the ground OR a sort of halfway home for wheels that are bent out of shape, down on their luck and just don't have any other place to roll).
Then, as fate would have it, when I was 11, my family moved to Richmond, VA and I experienced the exact opposite of what it meant to be popular. I remember on my first day of middle school, sitting in homeroom (which was already new and confusing to me) and talking to the girl sitting next to me about something or other. Her face did not light up, we didn't instantly break into the carefree song and dance of being young and interacting. Instead she looked at me like a familiar noise that would call your attention from a book, and upon realizing that the sound belonged to no one, returning her attention to her book or the front of the room. I won't pretend this was the first time I felt shame in my life, but this very first interaction certainly set the tone for how incredibly different middle school in Virginia would be from elementary school in Houston.
And here, I truly believe is when the jello mold began to set. Having next to no friends, I developed two great passions: reading, a characteristic that defines me to this day (write "reader" on my grave and send me up!) and video games, (which, I cannot think of a funnier thing to see on my, or anyone's, tombstone than the word, "gamer"). Gulp. But boatloads and wheelhouses of introspection and imagination began to follow. The imaginary worlds of books and video games and soon film, created an endless cycle of images of ideas and a deep desire to create. I had a fire within me and it was fueled by a hunting for a place that felt like Summer Camp Texas when I was little. If I had synesthesia, it'd be like an ever present longing to feel fuschia.
There was one more thing I took from Texas that would help to define my creative sensibilities. It's not something I share with everyone (well, until now) but it was a big part of who I was as a little one. I lied about everything.
While that's not entirely accurate, it was certainly a swiss army knife stratagem to put the untruth into action, to get out of trouble, to brag, and sometimes, I don't know, just for h-e- double hockey sticks of it. As I made my way through the world, I must have been either blessed with a silver tongue or just really too darn cute to scold. Either way, my ambiguous feelings towards the truth survived a move to another time zone, where it ran from the 2:45 assembly on the loneliness of adolescence through the empty hallways of the school where my dreams always take place, smack into my love of the fictitious and created A FREAKY FRIDAY LIKE RECKONING OF CREATIVITY. Or thereabouts.
The point is this. I was always more interested in the fictitious and the weird than the real and the well worn. So as I avoided my parents and anything they wanted from me, I dove towards a world of my own making. At first, because of my first real girlfriend, books, this took the form of writing.
You may have gathered this from how far from 2015 we still are in this inaugural post of a blog that is supposedly NOT about writing, but about making little paper dealies. By the time I was in high school, having worked pretty hard to be seen as a writerly person, I began to fall in love again with making things with my hands (because why be one note when you can be two note!). As a way of simplifying, we'll call this the period where I fell in love with Ikea catalogs.
Exactly as Fight Club introduced the faceless and full consumerism of displaying whitewashed objects as some propped up version of individuality, I thought, oooh, walls are canvases, objects can be seen as markers of identity, place can be designed. I had never put it together before. It hit me. Bookcases are adult DIORAMAS. Everywhere became an opportunity to make decisions, to make color where, once their was not, and to MAKE OBJECTS. Though my life was much less peopled, it was full once again with the wealth of possibility. A frame became a leash for an idea. Every object could be dismantled, painted, reconstructed, redesigned. Made different, prettier, given a new life. I printed photos from the internet to paste all over. Wrote quotes on my walls. Bought silly clothes from thrift stores. I learned the electricity of making life happen. And I went back out in the world ready to bring something into it.
To be continued in Part Two. The part where I actually touch paper.
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