Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Don't Want Some Pretty Face To Tell Me Pretty Lies

I've been thinking about all of the impressions I give, and how much thought and worry I put into them.

Not just first impressions, although it has been fun to watch the new roommate's face as she tries to navigate the murky waters of my past personalities only to discover the contradictory facade that is today's partially actualized M. R. Shurtz, or her soon to be anagrammed pen name, Tzar Hurt-My-Rush.

No, I have been thinking about my daily exchanges, and the great lengths I go to in order to have a stranglehold control on how I present myself to oldest friends and newest acquaintances alike.

The fact that I've been ruminating on this won't surprise any of you. I've made a joyous career out of applying my obsessively analytical brain to the study of other's reactions to their environment, and to my presence in their habitat especially. The fact that my favorite movie in high school (and a recently revisited obsession) was "SLC Punk!"--a manifesto on the culture of the outsider and its effects on society--is also not an accident.

So why even address it anymore? The subject should be worn out by now, there's only so many ways I can make neon signs that say "Don't pigeon-hole me, you close-minded automaton!"  And you're right, that bitter diatribe is tired at best and meaningless at worst. Instead, what I've been focusing on is the somewhat more subtle and definitely more willing changes I make in order to soften/accentuate the impressions I make on my peers, families, and peoples with authority.

I, despite my clinging to my band t-shirts, am exceptionally adept at this type of self-reinterpretation/censor. An example that comes to mind is when I compiled a calendar of my favorite poems as a Christmas present for my parents. I know, I'm adorable. And broke, but whatever. A conscious decision I had to make while putting together that selection of poetry was eliminating roughly 74% of my favorites and replacing them with what I considered to be lesser cousins to the greats.

Why, you ask? Because the subject matter of most of my favorite poems is of a fairly dark, melancholy nature. And I knew that not only were my parents not of a temperament that would enjoy those poems, but more significantly, if I included even a handful of verse that was written from a negative perspective, my parents would attribute those themes to my mental state and would worry/fret/bother me with frequent visits to snap me out of it.

Let me emphasize, those are not my favorite poems because I am perpetually in a deep dank dark dungeon of depression. They're my favorite poems because they are well-written monuments to some of humanity's strongest emotions. I believe that the greatest amount of trash and genius has been written about love and despair because those two themes are what pierce us to the soul, and drive individuals to find an outward way to express it. This applies to poetry, music, art, film, sky diving, any medium of self-expression.

In relation to this, I also censor myself on an almost daily basis. When I'm too lazy to think of a witty comment for facebook, I generally choose a song lyric fragment and post that. Some are meaningful; some are arbitrary, all from music I love. I have almost never allowed myself to post lyrics from my very favorite songs, for fear of misinterpretation or a bad impression.

Some of them are very angry, most of them are incredibly romantic, and none of them are about situations I am currently in. But I'm not a creature who really needs music lyrics to speak to me in the humdrum, literal narrative sort of way. If all my song lyrics were a play-by-play of my daily emotions and events, it would be the flattest, most non-committal changeless bunch of hooey you ever did see.

Songs become my favorite because an artist or lyricist's message was so sharply in focus to them that it reaches out and grabs me. I wish I was less afraid to share those moments, but I have this self-imposed paranoia of leaving the impression that I'm 'emotional.'

How ridiculous is that? Of course I'm emotional. I'm part of the human race, we have souls and communication and history progresses because we have more than the basic animal instincts to feed and procreate.

Well, most of us do.

So why on earth should this be something I shy away from so resolutely? Couldn't really tell you. It'd be easy to blame it on our post-modern 21st century cynicism, where no display of feeling is real or without cliche unless $50 million is spent on post production. But I sometimes sit in fearful contemplation that my abhorrence of personal display has a lot to do with a very singular disconnect that I have within.

On an unrelated note, school is incredible. It's also facing me off like a prize-winning sumo wrestler, testing to see if it can smother me and remain the undefeated champion. But I've carbed up and am ready to roll with it. Ewww, roll with it. Bad choice of words for this piece of imagery.

I will be victorious.

Also, I guarantee my next post will be frivolous fluff in an effort to slyly distract you from this post.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Just Put Your Lips Together And... Blow.

My parents have ruined my ability to be a normal woman who is satisfied with her position in life.

Bless their dear little hearts, they really didn't mean anything by it, but the fact remains that I am going to blame them and only them. And no, I don't think my own neurosis should be taken into account in this manner. I believe nurture champions nature every time when blame needs to be assigned.

And like most things related to my family, the parental unit didn't see conventional tactics as an interesting enough way to mess up my brain. I got plenty of hugs as a child (and a few of spankings, but I'm pretty sure I was a really bratty kid). No, instead my parents chose to go a different, more subtle way.

My parents destroyed my chances at contentment by indoctrinating me with classic films.

I know, it's a rough existence, being raised in a home that strives for a level of culture and understanding of all art mediums. It's even worse when it's accompanied by a desire to keep the children in their home from being exposed to the crudity of modern entertainment at too young an age. I'm so oppressed.

But I will say unequivocally that saturating me at such an early age with the archetypes of the winsome ingenue and the mysterious femme fatale has permanently stunted my level of personal satisfaction. Essentially, classic Hollywood set up the most unachievable paradigm of womanhood possible for a gal like me.

I would kill to be mysterious. I would sacrifice half of my caffeine consumption to be ethereal and aloof. I'd give myself a papercut in the eye every day if it meant that I could carry around with me an aura of mystery, allure, and a hint of troubles past. Lauren Bacall could totally pull off the accompanying eye twitch of a perpetual eye paper cut and make it look incredible.

But I could never be any of these things. I like hugs. And sticking three gumballs in my mouth to see how big of a bubble I can get. When the occasion calls for it, I've been known to giggle. It's true that I've dealt with what sometimes feels like more than my share of early adulthood troubles; but much to my consternation, I keep on bouncing back and trying to make the best of it.

I truly wish I could look world-weary before my time. Instead, people walking their dogs when I'm on the way to my bus stop ask me if Provo High has already started up for the fall. I yearn to have a laugh laced with bitterness, to be the lovely heroine who is racked with troubles but confides in no one. I confide in everyone. I love the sharing, the storytelling, the insights in my youth that might explain why I am who I am.

I'm an oversharer, I couldn't be enigmatic if I tried. I'm quirky, I'll give myself that, but I'm not even aloofly quirky. One of my quirks is that I love to cross examine and explain the mind process and physical manifestations of my quirkiness (ref: this blog).

I'm not even sufficiently vulnerable. I'm small, which is a plus, but I'm also sturdy. With a tendancy to laugh when I get hurt. And a certain air of 21st-century-woman competence. Damn feminism. And no man is ever going to sweep me up in the classic neck-cracking kiss, because they'd have to bend over too far to reach me at that point and it would just create a very awkward silhouette.

My existence obviously isn't that horrible, but let it be known (since I can't seem to keep myself from sharing) that I will always and forever feel like my life in it's totality was a little bit flatter, a shade less shiny, because I was never the woman who's large-brimmed-hat-profile in the deeply shadowed restaurant made anybody go "Who is that woman?" I'll never be described as intoxicating, glamorous, dangerous, or unknowable. And that makes me a tiny bit sad.

Just not sad enough to be awesome.