Apparently my 10 year high school reunion is this weekend. While too busy to go, it did prompt me to do a deep dive through some old art from a decade ago during my last semester of Walton high school (as well as some truly harrowing photos of me as an angsty teenager). At that point I didn’t even know that I wanted to be an artist (or if that was even a real job) – but a deep fear of any career relating to math, an obsessive desire for self-improvement, and 10 years of drawing shitty drawing after shitty drawing, it eventually clicked enough that I understood that human faces didn’t look like … that.
Now, I don’t wanna sell the whole generic motivational idea of: “SEE anyone can make it, just work really hard, look at me” line of thinking as I had/have numerous advantages that others do not – with what I look like, where I come from, what I believe, or what I was told I can reach for, never being an impedance. That being said, for any young person reading this that hasn’t been lost to cynicism yet: Man I hope you get the chance to try to do something you love. I hope you have the opportunities you should and people that tell you that you can. I hope that the only barriers for your success are talent and hard work – because that shit can be built even when everything else seems broken. And if the barriers you face are bigger than that, I hope you overcome them against the odds, working harder than I had to even when you shouldn’t have to, just so that the world gets to see what you can do too.
“Darling, you can’t let everything seem so dark blue. Oh, what can I do?”
—“Black Beauty,” Lana Del Rey
The summer I was 16 and cripplingly awkward, my father’s job moved our family from Toronto to the southern U.S. After spending my whole young life in Canada, I started my first day of 10th grade at George Walton High School in East Cobb County, Georgia, and the ensuing culture shock was about as harrowing as you can imagine for an already uneasy teenage girl.
The high school of nearly 2,700 students was primarily white and Baptist, complete with daily prayer around the flagpole, pancake breakfasts for Jesus, and a Friday Night Lights–style football obsession. On game days, fully suited football players brought roses to their assigned cheerleaders, while the girls, clad in their freshly pressed red-white-and-blue uniforms, provided players with baked goods and breakfast sandwiches from Chik-fil-A. The town was famed for a 56-foot-tall steel-sided chicken statue, and for being an early adopter of evolution is just a theory stickers for its science textbooks. In one memorable round of bullying, a few other students decided I was a weirdo and a freak and threw food at me in the cafeteria while gleefully chanting insults.
The only way to suffer through 18 months in the slo-mo sport-movie montage of southern teen culture was to fetishize Americana—protests in Marietta Square and peach pies cooling on windowsills, buttery Waffle House grits and chain-smoked Marlboro Reds with bottomless diner coffee, and the appealing façade of southern hospitality. It was a bright-side approach to darkness, a juvenile fascination with the great American road trip, with drug-fueled binges for the sake of poetry and art, with Hollywood glamour and revolution and the blinking lights of Vegas—a false frontier mentality that made America seem majestic rather than menacing. Deluding myself into survival, I found something to love where there was nothing. And decades later, I’ve found that Lana Del Rey that sounds exactly like that glorious pretense. Her songs, are in essence, nostalgia for an old lie.
Don’t know if I ever posted this on tumblr, but I think some people following me might like this.
It’s a video of a rehearsal of one of my friend’s dances that he choreographed himself. Alex Lang is one hell of an amazing dancer and I am so proud of everyone in this video. Already missing the idiots… <3 WH PA Family 4 Lyfe M8 :D
(but seriously, that video just makes me smile the whole time. Also, the lights are screwy because all of that particular show’s Act 2 lighting got deleted so the lighting guys were doing it on the fly.)