Or, on second thought, maybe harder.
What is stupid? Reactivity? Aggressive pugilist or passive blithe wallflower. I suppose both are ways of being shut-down, a one-solution dumb-down strategy because of threat of the past carried into the present. It’s not about intelligence so much as unadaptive reactions.
Intelligence is a hard thing to measure. My cousin who was institutionalized as being “developmentally delayed” when the institution shut down, she got herself a house, went on to date a guy who turned out to be a binge-violence person. Unlike some “normal intelligence” women in the same situation, whether she justified or strained over what to weigh against what, she drew the line fast and hard, changed the locks on her doors and he was not going to let him live with her anymore. There’s more that goes into understanding fairness and boundary issues than “intelligence” with letters or numbers.
Walking through streets of signs in Chinese, even the notice over the water fountain in Chinese, I felt partly stranded and partly freed. In the bookstore I could do the gestures of browsing, see the sections, see biography, cooking, art books, novels, magazines. Could look through particular books and know the arrows and pull out boxes were giving details on how to sketch a portrait of the face but words themselves were out of reach.
I get insular in my normal. Being among a Cantonese senior crowd I was tall and blazingly white. It does something to my brain to set me at ease. I grew up being told I was an other, joked about being so strange perhaps switched at the hospital, surely not from those people. Strange ideas and habits. Home, perhaps, I speculate, means being unlike those around me.
I grew up not being able to see, which was noticed in grade 4 when I was assigned to alphabetical seating to the back of the room. The fuzzy letters were instead vague direction of blackboard. My grades dropped.
Someone noticed and I got glasses. Also because the school intervened and ordered a dental visit, before kindergarden registration and at some points later, I went to the dentist 3 times before high school getting many teeth filled. If I were not funnelled through that hostile atheist school environment, being bullied from grades 3-13, what all would have shifted?
I pooh-pooh essential self. Events set up chains of events. If the path forked differently, or in one instant, decided intolerable instead of tolerable, where would I be now? If I were clear-headed and pulled up from the waves more than I did, instead of befuddled, would I have gone to Queens?
I got accepted to Ryerson journalism but in the final admittance essay argued myself out of it and never sent it. I got accepted to Canadore college journalism but couldn’t find housing as term came closer so backed out there. I accepted going to Baptist Bible College but as I mentioned before it didn’t seem religious enough.
So I ended up at Carleton doing an arts degree that I switched to linguistics, setting aside switching streams to journalism later. There I met future hubby who treated me more levelly and more kindly than almost any human I’d met.
Would any path have led to analogous people and poetry eventually? Some people get waylaid.
Ah, case in point. To think this was to be a photo post.
These were all graffiti and around Toronto.
In other subjects, Professor Richard Chess and UNC Asheville student Brian Hart interview award-winning poet and Oulipo expert Lee Ann Brown in November 2010. 40 interesting minutes.