Friday, April 30, 2010

A Hand is Forced...

So, without much guidance I'd resigned myself to go to Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook in September 1989 as the extent of my post-secondary education ambitions. Looking back at this I honestly needed someone to intervene for me in High School or not long after, slap me to my senses and convince me that a desire to write, practice visual art or get into film-making actually was a legitimate career choice. Regionally the only school that genuinely appealed to me was the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax but several things prevented me from seriously considering that as an option.

One was that I was told incessantly that there were no solid job prospects upon graduation. Now, keep in mind this is w-a-a-a-a-a-y before the days of graphic and digital media design. This was born out a bit by the fact that a friend of mine's older brother had recently graduated and was having a hard time getting a job.

The other, more esoteric thing, is that the type of art taught there was often characterized by some people in my circle, either fairly or unfairly, as woefully pretentious. I was an easy mark for this line of "reasoning". It's always pissed me off that people could conceivably nail a rubber boot to a door, spray paint the entire thing chartreuse, call it "art" and then apply for a grant from the government. Don't laugh at that, I've actually seen that s#!$ in action. I remember taking a nominal, barely equipped art class in High School and feeling galled that there was no mention of my Dad's work, just talentless clowns that had gotten in in good with the provincial government and weaseled their way into the school curriculum as it's representative artists.

I was also troubled by a story a friend of mine told about a recent graduate who'd gone to a NASCAD student's show and witnessed something unforgivable to me. As guests were milling around discussing the aesthetics of the pieces on display a dude dressed in a black leotard and a slide projector strapped to his head was randomly walking around muttering:

"I am a projector. I project."

Now this story may have been a complete fabrication, but whether true or not, it actually had an impact on my decision. Frankly, I've got no tolerance for that kind of crap.

Also factoring in was the alarming amount of people from my graduating class who'd initially opted to go to university in Halifax that were now crawling back home either chronically homesick or terrified that they were no longer a big fish in a small pond. In fact, a close friend of mind limped back home after a few months at St. Mary's because he despised being housed apartment-style in the Edmund Rice building with a bunch of complete strangers who were drifting into the south side of "asshole".

Talk about schadenfreude, people, I'm just as guilty as anyone else. His failure justified my fear of leaving home.

"See, I told ya!" I remember gloating to him. "Everybody's coming back home! Just drop out and come with me to Grenfell next September. You'll save a ton of money and it'll be fun!"

In retrospect I seriously hope my self-righteous smugness and current sad state at home sent him back to Halifax to prove me wrong, which he promptly did. He moved into the Loyola building, got his own room and found his groove. Thank God my boy had more guts and brains than I did, since it allowed me to follow him into residence that September.

This was the best decision of my life. Not that St.Mary's was the best school for me, that more likely would have been Mount Allison or *ahem* NASCAD speaking regionally or perhaps Vancouver Film School or McGill if I didn't have a crippling fear of other human beings.

And I want to speak to this crippling fear for a moment. When I lived in Sydney up until age eight or nine, I had friends there that I likely would have regarded as brothers if we'd stayed. Dad made the decision to move back home to Newfoundland to be closer to family and the jury's still out as to whether or not this was the right thing for all of us collectively.

But it wasn't the right one for me. When I lost my friends in Sydney I became increasingly insular. Subconsciously I thought "Why make new friends? They'll just be taken away from me when we move again." As an already-sensitive only child I didn't have any siblings to toughen me up. I know it still hurts when a stranger at school takes a crack at you, but if you have brothers and sisters who feel as if it's their full-time job is to make your life a living hell, then your skin can't help but get a bit thicker.

But not me. If someone ever said something off-color to me in school I took that s#!& to heart! At that time the thought of leaving behind the few folks that knew and bolstered me up to move into a strange residence half-way across the country was terrifying to me.

But my year spent at home quickly overcame my fear of people. My peeps had moved on, I was dead-bored, work was awful I was hearing great things about life at St. Mary's. Also, back in my day (Note: this last line is best read in your finest "Grandpa Simpson" voice) there was a terrible stigma associated with living at home after High School. Now I see it as kinda smart, but I still believe it makes you fabulously spoiled. In residence you aren't going to be coddled. You are no longer a specious little snowflake. No one is gonna wash your drawers for you. You eat what you can or you starve to death.

I applied to SMU and got accepted for September, ready conquer my crippling fear of strangers.

Little did I know that what I was about to do was as dramatic as taking someone with vertigo and hydrophobia up into a helicopter and dropping them in the middle of Great Slave Lake.

EPIC: Not just my Dad's art available here but my friggin' Mom's as well. How cool is that?!

FAIL: Rant, on, brotha'!

Finally, here's this week's cartoon:

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