I find myself looking at the screen and squinching up my face when I see all the flaws. The dimensions all look off somehow, the colours vary slightly in an undesirable way from monitor to monitor, I’m having a virtual fistfight with Mozilla when it doesn’t like my code, it’s too busy, it’s too plain – it’s something that I didn’t intend; it has become what on the surface appears to be an innocuous template created by a neophyte designer but is really a small and unmanageable monster grating against said designer’s personal aesthetic sense.
Why the struggle? So many of you out there have perfectly decent templates that you seem to be contented with and that remain unchanged for the most part. When I go to visit your sites, they look the same as I have always known them, and it’s kind of comforting. They are your web face, and I recognize each of you before the page has fully loaded. Not mine. Mine could look different from week to week. Every time I change this place, my readership drops off dramatically for a week or two, so I’m obviously not doing it to win any popularity contests.
When I started in on creating this latest in my line of amateur templates, I decided that at some point I want to stop this and settle into one like a comfortable old pair of jeans. When I finally put the finishing touches on this one this morning, I thought to myself this could be the one, because this one is simple, it works in at least two different browsers (let me know if it doesn’t work in yours, please), and I don’t feel that it foists a particular mood or personality upon me, but you know what, I have thought that before with each and every one of my creations.
Then it hit me: this is a reaction to stress. Some people move to another city, leave their significant other, change jobs, clean their house, get drunk, dye their hair, or what have you. I spend hours slaving over template design. So I started thinking about what it was that had recently stressed me out, and I was a dismayed at first at what my subconscious had picked out. It was my hair. Of course, this whole bit of stress is not entirely about my hair, but that is where it began.
A week ago yesterday I went to my regular hairdresser for a haircut, and she remarked that I am much more grey I was just two months ago. I had noticed it, too, and since dying my hair used to be one of my favourite stress outlets, I asked what colour she would recommend. (My hair is actually greying to a beautiful bright and sparkly silver, which I look forward to keeping when it’s all done, but right now it’s in a mousey pre-greying phase that I don’t particularly like). My hairdresser told me that if I was going to be using a home dye (I admit it, I’m cheap) that I shouldn’t go darker or lighter than light golden brown, because I have so much grey and the shade and texture of my grey hairs would mean that anything darker would come out pink or purplish. I am not even old enough to be this grey, but I did start finding my first grey hairs at the age of fourteen or fifteen, and my mother was completely grey by forty, so this doesn’t come as a surprise to me.
So you see, it’s not my hair that is actually stressing me out. It is just the trigger. It is time’s advancement and how this advancement seems to have the nasty habit of causing some things to end, or at least wind down noticeably. It is suddenly inadvisable for me to dye my hair dark, and there goes the days of my wandering up and down the hair dye aisle at my local drug store wondering which shade best suits my mood this month.
This coincides with my periods becoming less regular since December for the first time in my life. I have always been regular since my second period when I was fourteen, and now they change on me. I’ve been reading up on it, and apparently I’m heading into a new hormonal phase of my life. The phase is new, but it means a new set of physical circumstances that mean I am heading to or even down from the peak of my youthful fertility. And there goes Time, winding something down again. The reality of the fact of another option biting the dust looms in the future.
This is not about aging, as much as this all sounds like it’s about aging. It’s not. It is about a sense of options. I know that I am still young and fertile and futureful and strong, but this is not about fact. This is about finding myself quite suddenly realizing that I have passed out of my stupid youth, and I never saw it happen. When I was in my twenties, I had a lot of depression and rage and worries, but nothing felt like it was winding down yet. Everything was uphill and hard, but it felt wide open.
What am I getting at? I’m starting to sound like an old lady, which means that I’m not getting my point across at all, even to myself, but I’ve plugged along this far, so I’ll keep going. I guess I’m starting to see how some things just aren’t going to happen. It’s not that I necessarily want some of those things to happen, but I just don’t like knowing that they won’t. Once upon a time, I felt that in the future I could be, see, do, feel anything I could think of whether I actually wanted those things or not. I could have dyed my hair orange, which I never did or even wanted to, but I knew I could. I could have followed my ex-girlfriend out to B.C., which I knew I wouldn’t do, but I could dream about it as though it was something I might do.
Now I know that I won’t do those things. Anything-could-happen, the concept, seems to be narrowing somewhat. There is a little less of anything-could-happen around these days. Don’t get me wrong, I know that anything could happen, there is just less anything around, it seems. This feeling, which I can’t seem to find a name for, is the same feeling I had when my maternal grandparents moved out of the house that they had lived in throughout my life, and I knew that I would never again be able to hide out in that crawlspace of a blanket closet and listen to their muffled voices through the cheap wood panelling and feel that same safe secretness again. I could imagine it, but I knew that it was never going to happen again. Oh, I know it could, but if the new owners of that house found me curled up in the crawlspace under their stairs, they would probably have me arrested or at least given a psychological assessment.
So, it’s I could but now I can’t, or I could but now I won’t. On top of there being less anythings around, there are now more won’ts. Yuck. What’s a girl to do? Write bad poetry? Start dressing tarty? Become the annoying mature student in an arts class at the university? Take up some useless and bizarre scuba diving lessons at the local pool three thousand miles from any ocean? That all sounds too terrible. I think I’m going to go smoke and drink a beer instead. Get out of my own head. Maybe read some of Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep. Yeah.
Something really excellent happened today, or at least the promise of something really excellent happened today. A could, if you will, and oh, I will. I would tell you all about it, but that would interrupt the undertow of the entry too much, if this blurb hasn’t already. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.
Check out the Infinite Cat Project if you like cats staring at cats staring at cats staring at cats staring at cats... Hell, you can even enter your own cat!
An arctic research ship has been fitted with machine guns.
An interesting discussion of language, spelling and grammatical errors, and web authorship as it pertains to weblogs happened on my friend’s blog here.