Posts tagged with "high-school"

small world

The dri­ve to Toronto is get­ting eas­i­er. It’s my only chance to real­ly lis­ten to albums nowa­days1, not to men­tion the com­fort of see­ing famil­iar towns on the way, like the names of sub­way stops you can’t help but mem­o­rize as a child on the way home from school. And in a way, so many years lat­er, Toronto still feels like home. Getting there is a jour­ney, but the peo­ple always make it worth it.

My patience tends to wear out about a quar­ter way in, when it becomes hard to main­tain a rea­son­able speed. It’s a test of whether I can dri­ve safe­ly to see how far I’ve grown as a per­son.

I fail every time.

Toronto view

The view from Alex’s down­town apart­ment. You can eas­i­ly tell Yonge Street apart from how bright­ly it’s lit.

Continue read­ing “small world”…

  1. Editors in both direc­tions this time, cause any­thing I lis­ten to nowa­days is Antje rec­om­mend­ed. []

old habit

  • Rob: Sometimes it still hurts. You know how it is, man. It’s like, you wake up every day and it hurts a lit­tle bit less, and then you wake up one day and it does­n’t hurt at all. And the fun­ny thing is, is that, this is kin­da wierd, but it’s like, it’s like you almost miss that pain.
  • Mike: You miss the pain?
  • Rob: Yeah, for the same rea­son that you missed her… because you lived with it for so long.


I’m in my last days of high-school again. Pretty much this. Feeling like I have the rest of my life ahead of me with so much to look for­ward to, but only cause I’m try­ing to shed every­thing that hap­pened in the final dis­as­trous year.

I remem­ber writ­ing a lot back then in this black note­book. It was filled with all these ver­bal scrib­bles, short pas­sages of text, words, lyrics, emo­tions I could­n’t con­tain. My thoughts were a jum­ble, lost some­where between the pain and the love of how it made me feel alive.

That’s how I feel now. Old habits break hard.

About once every two years I uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly threw it out and bought a new one, because I hat­ed every­thing in it. I nev­er want­ed to think of myself as the per­son who wrote all the things in there. Sometimes I won­der if I’ll look back on these entries one day and think the same.


In my last year of high school — which was also my first year at that school, so no one real­ly knew me — I had a cre­ative English class. We were giv­en 15 min­utes of free writ­ing time at the begin­ning of each class, of which I most­ly spent mak­ing ver­bal doo­dles to any kind of cin­e­ma stim­u­la­tion I had recent­ly seen at the time. Around then, it would have been quotes from Monty Python and lines from Casino. Anyone could put a CD in the stereo for every­one to hear, so one week I put my most recent mix in.

In the mid­dle was Creep by Radiohead , and anoth­er guy in class sud­den­ly exclaimed, “A great song!”, amidst the silence of our work­ing minds. Everyone looked at him, then at me, and I felt a red­ness flush on my face.

That was fol­lowed by One by Metallica, and again he said, “Another great song!”, and the same chain of events hap­pened as last time.

He was that edgy kid with bleached blond hair and always got in trou­ble for wear­ing walk­ing shoes with his uni­form. He did his own thing, had his own tastes, and fit in with the crowds he want­ed, not nec­es­sar­i­ly the crowds that want­ed him. I was that awk­ward kid who had no real friends, had a mop for hair, and a per­pet­u­al­ly tac­i­turn demeanour. To have him acknowl­edge my taste for two songs in a row had sud­den­ly giv­en me some kind of street cred because he was far more pop­u­lar than me.

Some of the oth­er kids start­ed look­ing at me dif­fer­ent­ly from then on.

My Interest In Russian Literature

The sto­ry of a human soul, even the pet­ti­est of souls, can hard­ly be less inter­est­ing and instruc­tive than the sto­ry of a nation…

Many of my ear­li­er entries con­tain ref­er­ences to Russian Romantic lit­er­a­ture, but I’ve nev­er explained my fas­ci­na­tion with it. I’ve always iden­ti­fied with ideas of the Byronic hero and Nihilism, whether they were ideals or philoso­phies I felt drawn to. It was one book that intro­duced me to these ideas, called A Hero Of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov, a Russian poet (in the truest sense of the word) who died in a duel at 26. Whenever I meet some­one from Russia, I ask them if they’ve read it, in the hopes that per­haps I can gain some insight into this book from some­one who under­stands the orig­i­nal lan­guage. I read it when I was in grade 9, and so much of what the pro­tag­o­nist, Pechorin, made sense to me.


Ah, well! If I must die, I must! The world will lose lit­tle, and I am weary enough of it all. I am like a man who yawns at a ball and does­n’t go home to sleep only because his car­riage has­n’t come.

During a brief phase, I’d say about year off and on in high school, I was at the very depths of depres­sion and some­what sui­ci­dal, but I could nev­er bring myself to do it. I was just hop­ing death would take me. It was an easy way out. Not only did I have no rea­son to live, but my life was quite unpleas­ant. My best friend had ditched me for the pop­u­lar crowd1, so my time at school was mis­er­able, then I’d come home to an emp­ty life and par­ents that ignored me.

Ever since, I’ve felt like I’ve been liv­ing on bor­rowed time, wait­ing for the end to come, when it should have already arrived. That’s why I remain unp­hazed by the idea that I’m going to die, and accept­ing of the fact that it’ll hap­pen one day. As Pechorin says near the end of the nov­el, “After all, noth­ing worse than death can hap­pen — and death you can’t escape!”

Onegin painting

There’s a par­tic­u­lar scene in the movie Onegin2 that cap­tures the spir­it of this mor­bid accep­tance. Onegin (played by Ralph Fiennes) has been chal­lenged to a duel that he can­not back out of, lest he be the sub­ject of ridicule, so he accepts. He’s fired upon as he’s walk­ing towards his oppo­nent, and, faced with death, sim­ply clos­es his eyes. The expres­sion of calm in his face shows that it’s out of reflex, instead of fear.

Continue read­ing “My Interest In Russian Literature”…

  1. This was made espe­cial­ly more painful by the fact that I was so inse­cure that I defined myself through oth­ers, being left with­out being any­one’s “best friend” meant that I was worth­less. []
  2. Written by Alexander Pushkin, arguably Lermontov’s biggest influ­ence. In fact, as the char­ac­ter Onegin was named after the riv­er and lake, Onega, Pechorin was sim­i­lar­ly named after the riv­er Pechora. []

Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend: Michele

Why should I stay and pre­tend?
You make me laugh again
My dar­ling, truth is we are not even friends
Love comes and it goes
Where your heart stops no one knows
How did I wind up in this mess, here with you?

Just a moment of weak­ness
I should exam­ine my head
Just a moment of weak­ness
I nev­er meant a word I said

—Bif Naked, Moment Of Weakness

The first thing about you that caught my eye was your plat­form shoes. More specif­i­cal­ly, the lanky way you walked in them with your plaid skirt on. You had such a fun­ny gait that I would study when I was walk­ing behind you in the halls. Sometimes you looked like an injured fawn, vul­ner­a­ble and awk­ward­ly run­ning away with your long, slen­der legs. It was the very def­i­n­i­tion of sex­u­al­i­ty to a depressed, hor­mon­al teenage male.

Those shoes gave you an extra cou­ple inch­es, and I resent­ed every time you sub­tly knelt so you would­n’t be taller than me in any pic­tures.

I only have a sin­gle good mem­o­ry of our rela­tion­ship. You were sit­ting on my lap in the jacuzzi at Cammy’s place. It was February, and there was snow all around us, but we were warm and wet. Every few min­utes, we would dunk our heads under the water, then style each oth­er’s hair, the win­ter air freez­ing it with­in sec­onds.

The more I got to know you, the more I learned that it was all a big mis­take. I stuck it out because I did­n’t want to break up with you in the months lead­ing up to your exams. It was espe­cial­ly hard when Lisa start­ed show­ing inter­est in me, but I could­n’t do it.

You were a sex­u­al bore. No sound, no reac­tion, noth­ing in bed. Your friends were all snobs. Your thoughts were trite, and your inter­ests were shal­low.

You nev­er knew it, but I had to decide between dat­ing you and Marina. It tore me up for a week, know­ing that one of you was going to be hurt. I chose you in a moment of weak­ness.

It was the biggest mis­take of my high school career.

The Letter To An Ex-Girlfriend series

  1. Introduction
  2. Ashley
  3. Michele
  4. Christie
  5. Jackie
  6. Louise
  7. Bronwen