Thursday, 5 January 2012

About Me, Part 9: Total Eclipse

Even today, in the middle of a soggy West Coast winter, my template for winter, the introspection, creative renewal, cocooning, all of it is the long, cold winter of 1983-84. I was out of school for two and a half months, at one point having my school assignments sent to me by courier, while my mother had surgery and recovered at my grandparents house. In the meantime, most of the family knew about my troubles over the previous couple of years and walked on eggshells for fear I might snap. My pet budgie had died just before my mother came to Montreal for the holidays; no one told me until we were all gathered around the dinner table. All eyes upon me while my grandfather broke the news. Truthfully, it didn't bother me; I had lost two others in years past. It was a little sad, but not devastating. My mind was on my crush, 5 hours away. Otherwise, it was buried deep in my own imagination.

And it was my imagination, while the snow outside buried us and the lights twinkled and the cold etched patterns on the windows, that got to work healing me.

Music, TV, films, all were things that had made a huge impression on me from ever since I could remember. But, that winter, the images and sounds of my life up until that point fused together creating the material I would turn to again and again for inspiration, ideas and respite.

Music resonated deeply. I can remember songs on the car radio and kitchen radio going back to when I was two and three years of age. I became aware of oldies (at that point, songs from the 50s and 60s) as a child. I heard oldies radio evolve from hour and two-hour long shows on FM stations in the 70s to whole station formats in the late 80s and early 90s. This is how I developed into such a nostalgic person. Music resonated so deeply that it made me visualize shapes and colours.

Going to see Fantasia when I was about nine was a mind-blower.

Music videos, when they appeared on TV in a big way in the early 80s, were an endless source of fascination.


I also got lost in the netherworld of syndicated TV series and cartoons. Spending late winter afternoons watching them not only helped me pass the time, but also eased my anxiety. In short, I became interested in popular culture, without knowing that was happening. And through it all, somehow, I was relaxing about myself ... finally.

To be continued ...

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