Friday, November 5, 2010

Camera tricks. Auschwitz. Phone Books

The most simple concepts will often times strike me out of the blue and I'll fancy myself some kind of evil genius. Take this morning, for example. I'm standing in the bathroom, staring at the mirror and simultaneously tweezing and blowing out my hair and there's something about the me-ness (yes, a word) of that moment that sucked me out and my reflection said to me, "you're just one of millions." I say my reflection said it because it really didn't seem like I was the one saying it. Just a camera trick.

When I was little I used to wonder if there were television cameras hidden in the bathroom or in bushes on my way to school. I would try my hardest to be on my best behavior even in my alone moments. I remember trying to find a discrete way to go to the bathroom without exposing myself to America (just in case). I didn't think about it all of the time but it probably crossed my mind once or twice a day. I remember thinking that if that wasn't happening, then what was I doing? What was the point? Why were there alone moments if not for the cameras?

Of course I'd heard the phrase "the world does not revolve around you" but what does that mean even, to a kid? Hell, it barely means anything to me these days. And then one day I looked up our name in the Stafford County phone book. And there we were--our whole family wrapped up in two words and seven numbers: Charles Parker 234-5367. And there were hundreds of others surrounding us and it struck me very heavily, probably too heavily for such a young and emotionally delicate girl, we are real but so is everyone else. I was one of millions. I remember that things changed for a while for me. I saw other people, even the other people in my house as just bodies moving around and eating and talking and doing homework and going to bed and waking up and eating and leaving. On one hand it was highly disturbing but it was also sort of comforting. Sort of the way that it must have been comforting to have your mother with you when you got off the train at Auschwitz. That example is, granted, a pretty exaggerated one but I'd rather assume that you can understand what I'm getting at than come up with something better. If I've at this point left you completely confused, feel free to make a note in the comments section and I'll take consideration. I didn't wonder about the cameras anymore, though, and in time I went back to living a pretty self-absorbed life sprinkled about with arbitrary moments where I'm struck by the world's expanse juxtaposed against my scrawny situation.

I don't remember at what point it flip-flopped and stopped being scary and started feeling comforting. I think everyone comes to a point at least once where they hope that the world doesn't revolve around them because that world would be very small and very boring and headed somewhere kind of scary.* If you don't believe me just think about those nights where you know you should go to bed like a responsible person but really you just keep posting shit on Facebook and checking back every 30-90 seconds to see if anyone's commented on it. All we want is for someone to "like" something we've done and then we can put ourselves to bed--loved and appreciated and needed for one more day. "What would my friends do without me posting my most darling videos/ political warnings/ scripture verses/ photos of stuff I found at the supermarket? You're welcome, World." Yeah--here's hoping there are bigger things out there and here's hoping that it's nothing I'm very familiar with at this point because I've exhausted all of my interests to the point of bitterness. The internet. Wow, what did we use to make ourselves feel important in the 90's?

No one uses the phone book anymore. We barely use phones (except for everything other than their originally intended purpose). Now we have blogs and Facebook pages and these are the things that tell me that I'm a real person--but also that everyone else is, too.

*That is not to say that I don't occasionally spend a dishwashing session perfecting my sexy, swoony rendition of Wild World for that one time that I get pulled up on stage and I pretend to be shy and forget the words and then surprise--mind blowing. You have to be prepared for these things even if they may be a little unlikely.

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