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Gilmore Girls, Apple Pie, And The Sense Of Otherness

Hello, Friend.

All right. Since you were wondering how on Earth is Gilmore Girls weird, OR what the heck is wrong with apple pie… you are getting a tour of the inside of my brain today - it’s SUCH a fun place to hang out - it’s like Halloween, LSD and Burning Man all rolled into one. Ready or not!

What I was saying (in my last letter to you) was that there IS another thing you can do to break a holding pattern, and that is to pivot into the ridiculous, into the funny, into the black humor. It functions a bit like a shake out, or, if you remember Grey’s Anatomy, dance-it-out. Although I have always found those dance scenes cringeeeyyy.

Let me tell you about a couple of (North American) things that are super weird to me (the immigrant).

Gilmore Girls. If you are a fan of the show, just go ahead and print this email, so you can burn it. Those of you who grew up with the show, and for whom, this has always just been the backdrop of popular culture... I wish I could explain how weird and creepy that show is to my clearly too-old and too-conservative eyes. How unnatural the overly familiar nature of the relationship between the two main characters feels on my skin. Yes, yes, I know that she was a teenage mother, and had Rory super young, and that’s like the main feature of the plot, and they are more like best friends than mother and daughter, and that’s meant to be super cute and endearing, but I just can’t. All of my liberal values be damned, my Eastern European insides just shrivel up and melt. And not caramel-yummy-melt. I’m talking eyeballs-in-a-horror-movie-melt.

I've tried watching it twice. Both times, I felt like I was doing something strange and vaguely shameful, like watching clown porn, or shaving the hair on my toes. At the same time, I constantly felt like looking over my shoulder, because I was clearly on candid camera. Like someone was just going to jump out and start laughing, and I would start laughing, and we'd both just laugh and laugh about this show that was intentionally filmed to be both creepy and ridiculous with the only goal of being used as candid camera fodder.

Apple pie and ice cream. You take a warm baked thing, and you top it with a cold frozen thing. Pick one, damn it. Do you want a warm dessert? Or a frozen one? Someone is probably going to say that we (we? Who is we?) borrowed that from the French, but... even if that's true, the French have mastered lace, wine, and perfume, so they can do whatever the hell they want with their ice cream. We (there I go again) just look silly. It's just a cheap ceramic plate, and a bunch of melted white goo, and wet pie crust.

The comforter vs. the duvet. Can SOMEONE tell me how the hell are those two things different? Also, what is a blanket then? I have been so overwhelmed by the seeming lack of difference between blanket, comforter, duvet, duvet cover, comforter cover, duvet comforter, and comforter duvet blanket, that I just gave up shopping for bedding altogether. My bed is made up right now with a (clean) sheet that nevertheless has two huge oil stains on it from that one time my favorite acupuncture person came over to my house to give me a treatment, and asked that I provide my own bedding. I should probably replace that sheet, but that involves looking up bedding related terminology. And I haven't even started on the bedding related sizing. I sit here, typing this, and wonder whether we also have twelve different sizes of mattresses in Russia. Do we have a twin, a double, a twin double, a queen, a king, a duke, a baron, and a marquise size of a mattress? God forbid you have five or more people in your household, and each of them somehow ended up with a different size mattress. Can you imagine the laundry hell? Can you imagine matching bedding to bed hell? That's gotta be worse than me currently trying to tell apart my 1-year old's socks from my 3-year old's socks. In case you don't have personal experience here, I'll spell it out - their socks look goddamn identical! Until you put them on, and the sock is too small for the toddler's stupid little foot, or the baby is donning thigh highs.

Mailboxes. How do y'all know that if the little arm is up that means there is mail inside, and after you take out the mail, you are supposed to bring that arm down? Like... where did you learn it? Do they go over this in grade three? I only learned about this mechanism of mail delivery five years ago - when we moved to a house that had one of those mailboxes with the arm. You know how I found out? Italian said that we should grab the mail, as we were pulling into our driveway, and I asked how he knew that we had new mail. Yep. And yep, he did give me the look. And then he proceeded to explain with that very calm "I-know-I-married-an-immigrant-and-explaining-these-things-is-just-part-of-my-life-now" voice. He used the same voice when he asked me a few years back why I was boiling potatoes on the stove, when we already had dinner ready. To which I responded in my own version of "goodness-you-Canadians-don't-know-the-simplest-things-sometimes" voice that I felt a little congested, and that I was going to breathe over the potato water. Now when he sees me arranging arbitrary-to-him ingredients together, he no longer asks.

There. I feel better.

This has been quite a burden to carry around, I gotta tell you.

On a more serious note, there is a common theme there, yeah?

Those things are weird to ME, because I didn’t grow up with these things. Those things are weird to ME, because we didn’t do it that way. Because English is STILL weird to me, even though I think in English now.

I am the very definition of “passing”. I understand just enough culture references to not stand out. Most of my work is online and in written form, and even, in person, I barely have an accent any more. I look and feel “Canadian enough”, yet I'm not 100% Canadian. There is more to my story.

A friend says: “Remember how all parents used to pack that thing for lunch in elementary school?”. I shake my head. “Didn’t go to elementary school here, remember?”.

“Oh yeah!”, the friend says. “That’s right!”.

What I know from my work with clients is that this feeling of “otherness” is quite universal. Most of us feel like we are just “passing” in at least some aspect of our lives. There is that impostor syndrome again. We might hold the membership card, but still feel like we don’t quite belong. We are still “other”.

That’s me saying - hey, friend! That feeling of otherness? That sense of just not belonging sometimes (or always!) - that’s totally not you. That’s more of a human thing. So…. congratulations. We are human.




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