haven’t changed

IMG_9273You haven’t changed. I’ve heard that twice so far this year. A couple months back a family friend from the island was visiting and handed me this thick manila folder. She said it contained my school projects from grade three. She had borrowed it from mom for inspiration programing her own grade three curriculum. She said I had to revisit it because –You haven’t changed. Flipping through it my brother and I laughed our asses off. I planned to share it on Instagram but felt some of the pictures needed longer commenting than I care to type on tiny iPod keys. Then I forgot about it.

The other day a beautiful silver haired woman was buying a few books. She looked up at me and asked ‘Lysette?’ I brightened, as anyone would when they hear their name and especially for me, when it’s pronounced correctly.

‘I thought it was you… you surely don’t remember me. It’s Ms. Xxxx. Your kindergarten teacher.’ Her face sparkled ‘My – You haven’t changed.

She asked what I had been doing all these years. I gave her a very condensed run on life sentence ‘I’m a stage manager for a rural outdoor theatre company but it’s not full time so I worked as a carpenter for six years between contracts but I am taking a break from that and helping out here with the family, for now… if I lived in the city I would likely do theatre full time but for right now, living here, it’s good.’

She left with her books and my parents, who were both in the shop in other rooms thought it was rather strange the five year old me is recognizable. I joked with a friend recently that I am often mistaken for being ten years younger – though I never know if that’s a compliment or an insult but to be recognized thirty years later seems like a stretch.

IMG_8686At this point our shop was split into two stores on different streets in town. One called Books ‘n Things and the other FTF Books. When we amalgamated into one space it simply became The Book Shop, though our business license is still FTF. It’s nice that I still feel this grateful for my family. The best part is the accompanying story about Jonathan (no idea who I was referring to) cutting his foot and acknowledging the day wasn’t going well.

IMG_8683 Truth. Life is nice and mean.

IMG_8670How do I even unpack this one but let’s just skip to K. I’m not sure if ‘killer’ was already slang in the 80’s for being something cool, or if I literally identified with violence but seeing as I chose V for violent… by grade three I was already  invested in anything macabre; monsters and horror movies. Singer is mysterious. I don’t sing. I dropped out of choir in theatre school as soon as it wasn’t mandatory. Weird and X-rated are probably still two of my favorite words. Interested (rather than interesting) and Terrific Trier are astute personal observations. Obedient is the biggest lie on this page.

IMG_8676‘Hates me’ I love that. Sad that at this age I was already aware of my otherness to my peers but I didn’t fit in with my so called friends.They were a bunch of prissy middle class assholes. The movie Heathers resonated with my elementary school experience more than high school. I love the lower left drawing of the doctor making a mistake that causes organs to fly out of the patients body. I think the picture above it is of dad (hahaha the comb over) with a big wooden spoon. My brother and I remember if we were being brats and dad got fed up with us, he would pick up a mixing spoon and chase us but never hit nor catch us. We would scream and run around the couch with a mixture of fear and exhilaration until we collapsed from exhaustion and would finally go to bed.

IMG_8672It’s cut off but the part at the top is about if I had an owl I wouldn’t get picked on. Aside from my shitty friends there was a pack of older boys that would follow me around at recess and tease me. In retrospect I think it was because they liked me but I thought it meant there was something terribly wrong with me. In my opinion introverts really suffer when attention is drawn to them. When it happens, I want the earth to open up and swallow me. I wonder if I meant ‘through’ (obviously misspelled ‘throw’) as in to toss a mouse into the air for the owl to eat, or regurgitate it? Could have been either, or.

Our dog Jack must have run off into the orchards. He would disappear for brief periods of time but always came back. Years later I watched him die of lung cancer when he was twelve likely from the pesticides sprayed in the orchards. Jack was one of the best. A huge blue heeler cross. He had the body of a wolf with heeler markings. He was probably crossed with a German shepherd.

IMG_8684 (19)Robotec. Amazing. When I read ‘I love Evil!!’ I was like – Uh, I guess? Then realized I was talking about the massive crush I had on Evil Ed; Brewster’s best friend in the horror movie Fright Night. The scene where the vampire (Chris Sarandon one of the suavest vampires in cinema) corners Evil Ed in the alley and tells him ‘They won’t pick on you anymore… I’ll see to that’ before turning him into a werewolf. I watched Fright Night over and over, identifying with that and thinking – Ed, I accept you and we could be best friends. I remember my infatuation, in part because he turns into a werewolf, it seems a bit much for a six year old but it was probably less romantic and more about friendship. Next best part ‘Lunch! Lunch!’ and that hockey games usually don’t air until the evening. The passage of time with which my sister would stay in bed. Living around orchards we always had barn cats, at least three at anytime coming and going. One was named ‘Pussy’ and no parent should ever let their kids call a cat ‘Pussy’. Ever.

IMG_8678Dad has always had very liberal views on censorship but did draw a line at us perusing the extensive nudie mag section in the bookshop. We did it anyway. Since the internet has decimated the adult magazine industry, our restricted section houses vintage mags and true smutty smut smut but mostly erotic art and photography books.

IMG_8680Alley. Flood. Ghastly blood.

IMG_8674 Being blind eyes closed.  My favorite part is the bleeding tree.

IMG_9272The assignment was to write a letter to a fairy tale character. Always sympathizing with the wolves, my letter was to the Big Bad Wolf wishing him luck on his future endeavors.

IMG_8689The cover of my koala report. I love his little arms. I did hold a very drugged out koala in Australia once. It’s claws and weight cut through my skin. I don’t think they let people do that now, or at least I hope they don’t sedate the koalas anymore.

IMG_8687And finally randomly on the back of a page in no relation to anything else. This was my brother’s favorite of the bunch. I am positive this guy if from an early 80’s movie but I can’t figure out what. I’m going to wake up in the middle of the night and holler a title into the air and when I do, I will do a single post on that name. There are so many more but I’m stopping here. It is somewhat comforting to look back and see I had a pretty clear idea of what I was into (and am still into) at such a young age. My blood family, dogs, books, horror, gore, wolves and companionship. My perception of the world as absurd was honing itself too.

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10 comments
  1. Jenny said:

    This is all gold, but the ‘I Wonder’ sheet made me concerned for 5 year old you – very suspicious of parents, doctors and teachers, and I don’t blame you!

    • lysette said:

      Jenny! you are super sweet! To this day I am still mistrustful of authority but I do know my parents love me very much ❤

  2. this is so great!! It’s not surprising that the current awesome you was once a very astute and intelligent, kind child. And yr parents sound so great. i love that they were smart enough to let you be you and shared their books and views and knowledge with you (minus the playboys I guess – that’s so funny!)
    I love finding old things I’ve written, the passage of time gives a really interesting perspective on some of our current proclivities. it’s amazing how early our personalities are formed, though! Do you feel like you’ve changed a lot??

    • lysette said:

      Oh my god I would loooove to see little Maud projects!! ❤ ❤
      Sometimes I look back on stuff and think I fucking peaked years ago, like the shit I was coming up with when I was younger was so much weirder and purer, you know? You totally know! hahaha I think it's great to revisit this era of childhood cause you just loved stuff without questioning it, without overthinking it, I guess the key is what you had access to. I hope I haven't changed cause six year old me had pretty good taste. I showed dad the line about the playboys and he just laughed and said 'That's why all the parents stopped talking to me!'

  3. that is all just ace. Love the picture of the doctor and the organs flying out! School was awful for me so I pretty much binned everything I ever had from school years ago but I think I have a few stories somewhere and one of those ‘about me’ things. My answer to “what do you want to do when you grow up” was “marry George Michael”.

    • lysette said:

      Hahaha Faye! What’s with us and five o’clock shadows? Maybe that mystery man I drew was a surly looking George Michael? I don’t know if you still have the same About page as you did a few years ago but when I read it the first time I laughed with so much delight I knew I’d found a kindred spirit! Teachers can make all the difference. I had a good creative teacher that year that really encouraged our individual expression (she was also a family friend so I felt pretty comfortable in class) Other years and teachers not the best memories and I probably tossed that stuff too. I actually dropped out of art class in Jr High cause I was harassed so much by a couple guys over how all my art projects were wolf/werewolf themed 😦 Wish I had a thicker skin back then and just thought ‘Hey Buddy, you’re gonna have a meth problem later in life so I’ll just keep drawing as many wolves as I damn well like!’ But that’s based on perspective 😉

  4. Juliana tried to sleep said:

    H is for Ham..
    Lol I don’t know why that made me laugh. Probably because of the fierce animal rights stance you’ve always had & I don’t ever remember Pam cooking Ham growing up.
    I totally agree with you on the use of the word “Pussy”. Something about that word gives me the icks. Unfortunately that seems to be something that was used to describe a cat in a lot of our children’s books. (Also I’m pretty sure Pam would casually use ‘Pussy’ to describe any of the cats. Along with calling out – “Puss Puss Puss” if they were outside and needed to come in).
    Ok finally the Juliana tried to sleep part. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a sleeper growing up. I’m still not a sleeper. Maybe it was just more of a family problem growing up lol.

    • lysette said:

      Yes! always butchering lambs and birds, fucking savages! Yeah Puss & Boots and the one with the owl… Oh god! Puss Puss Puss I forgot about that and now it’s ringing in my ears and I can see her at the back door with the sun-setting and air cooling down calling the cats in before the coyotes or great horned owls got them. Hahaha I was just teasing you. I think we all were bedroom dwellers.Tavis in his room drawing, me lighting stuff on fire and you and Dana playing Sonic the Hedgehog! ahaaa

  5. ameyfm said:

    ha ha ha. This post is so wonderful and amazing. Thanks so much for an insight into your wild and creative childhood self. I love the letter to the Big Bad Wolf signed “your friend.” Ha ha.

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