Limelight

This is the post I had envisioned myself writing first, but it turns out I’m like a whippet: I have to sniff in a circle for a while before I lie down. Once I’m down, of course, I just flop right on top of you and stick my skinny legs in your face and look at you like, What? I’m a whippet. You are my sofa. I’m pretty sure the reverse isn’t true.

So. Here’s the comfy flop: I’m a big nerd, and I like Rush. I intend to talk about music on this blog, and they’ve got a song that’s been on my mind, the lucky lads, so here they are right up front.

The embed function has been disabled on the YouTube video of the song, which is just as well since maybe you’re eating breakfast and maybe you don’t want Geddy Lee staring at you from my blog while you eat. But if you’re not familiar with “Limelight”, here she be. Unless you live in Canada, where a certain percentage of “Canadian content” is required, it’s not on the radio very often.

If you are in a bit of a rush yourself, ha ha, or if you are already rolling your eyes and thinking, “I haven’t liked Rush since I was fourteen years old and male!” — no worries. Here’s the punchline: As I set off on this journey toward publication, as I launch this new blog and poke at the internet, trying to establish some kind of “web presence”, it is a relief to hear my own ambivalence reflected in someone else’s music.

If you’re nerd enough to read on, matey, step into this matter transporter, here: Whee! I love that!

So. Here I am.

I have written and erased about twenty false starts, and am finally at the point where I’m saying to myself, “This is the one I keep, no matter how much it sucks!” You know what that means, don’t you? It means this will make no sense at all.  Good! Let it!

Sending a book out into the world is nerve-wracking business. People are going to read it; some will like it, some will not, and I can’t control either outcome. People will want to see the human behind the words, but she’s introverted and anxious and not at all sure she likes that idea.

And yet she wants to be seen.

There’s the paradox. And there’s where I keep coming back to this song, because it talks about treading that narrow line, about negotiating between personal and public, what is kept and what is given. How does one balance a desire to appear (witty? clever? cool?) against a need to be (the doofus who is interested in all kinds of things, who thinks too hard and delves too deeply and needs her sense of humour recalibrated)?

Neil Peart suggest “barriers”, and he’s famously gruff and reclusive, so maybe that’s not unexpected. I’m not such a fan of walls myself, having spent much of my adult life tearing mine down. Boundaries are more to my taste; they allow commerce in both directions, permitting you to reach out and be generous. For me the key to good boundaries is knowing what is mine, and what is everyone else’s.

I won’t pretend I’ve never dreamed of vast multitudes thinking I’m witty and profound, but that’s not why I write. It can’t be. For me, the trick to staying intact is to remember that I am not what other people say I am. I am myself first, cranky and comical by turns, worthy even when no one is looking, when I’m sitting at the table in my bathrobe eating peaches and reading The Economist.

I’m a big nerd, and I like Rush. Insofar as I am standing on a stage, I can only stand here unapologetically as myself.


8 Comments on “Limelight”

  1. F. P. Smearcase says:

    I must not have been fourteen years old and male at the same time.

  2. Joshua says:

    See, this is why I love posts like this, despite knowing you for so long I’ve learned something new about you.

    • Ha! What did you learn? Essay time!

      • Joshua says:

        Honestly, it never in a million years occurred to me that you harbored even a secret desire to be seen as cool, in any of the various senses of the word. Not even parenthetically. To me, you are Heart-On-Sleeve Lass, five-time winner of the Legion’s “Least Likely to be Able to Maintain a Secret Identity.”

  3. Ha. Josh, old man, I am so tempted to deny it. I wrote that in a hurry! It wasn’t what I meant! But it’s often those words that creep in under our guard that are exactly what we meant.

    It’s a little bit nuanced, though. For me, the “cool” I might desire to appear is something I remember from when I was a very slightly famous comic book artist. It was the smallest sort of fame possible, but it was still there. I would sit on one side of the table, and someone would come up on the other side of the table and be in awe of my prodigious drawing and stapling abilities. And maybe I was never actually cool, but for a moment I felt like I was. It was pleasant, but it was also uncomfortable because there was this table between us, like an uncrossable chasm. I want it, and I don’t. I don’t like the chasm; it’s too high a price for cool.

    And thank you for “Heart-On-Sleeve Lass”. I’d say you see me pretty clearly, over all. Then again, with my legendary inability to maintain a secret identity, maybe EVERYBODY sees me clearly, and I can stop worrying about it.

  4. Isabella says:

    Hey, I haven’t really liked Rush since I spent my teenage summers hanging out in Lakeside Park — seemed cool at the time — but local legend had it Neal Peart liked to run down the street wearing a cape.

    I think the trick to balancing the desire to appear cool with your lovely doofusy self lies not in changing yourself, or maintaining some image, but in having people recognize that the nerdy Economist-reading stuff is in fact cool. Subtle difference, and I think we’re probably on the same page on this, but I mean, as much as I wanted to be “cool” (or whatever), I never once said to myself “I wish I wasn’t such a bookworm, I’m going to work really hard at basketball,” more, with a kind of resignation, “I wish more people thought reading was cool.” But that’s the thing we have no control over individually, those are bigger social trends, perhaps better left to anthropologists and marketing experts. Uh, not really sure what my point is.

    You’re awesome, Rachel!


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