as a kid, i was completely captivated by the idea of having a near death experience. there was a sort of near death experience craze in the early 90s—(which phenomenon i have actually read about as an adult/non-kid)—and i know that i watched a number of tawdry shows that informed me about the near death experience. and then the glorious sightings made me long for it. (i think most of the episodes are watchable on youtube in their entirety and quite worth watching if you enjoy that tawdry-macabre vhs era. of course, unless you are about thirty and were raised in large part by a television set, i don’t know that the era would have any special appeal…) (also, i really did watch an extreme amount of tv when i was young—to the point where i kind of imprinted on the tv, i guess i have to say.)
neither of my parents seemed to find it odd or inappropriate that i watched a lot of tawdry true crime shows and leery ‘news’ magazines and infomercials—but when i told my mother that i wanted to be a `paranormal investigator’ when i grew up, she threw a fit. i was quite sternly informed that a paranormal investigator was not a legitimate thing to want to be and i was sincerely upset because i sincerely wanted to be a paranormal investigator. it’s a vivid memory! which for a long time i’ve laughed about, thinking that it was the kind of thing a mother had to be stern about, but at the moment i kind of feel like, hey, i could have been encouraged in that ambition—i mean, i’m pretty intelligent, and i do think outside the box as they were fond of saying to me at the law firm (of course not like figment does)—i have a lively interest in altered states—it could have been a brilliant career! (i mean, today i entered a potato chip naming sweepstakes. this is the best plan i have for my future.)
well, um, i guess i could still have a career as a paranormal investigator. except i’m catholic. they do frown upon that sort of thing. and have much better reasons for frowning-upon than my mother. (she is not catholic.) but anyway, the reason i’m writing about this is because today i was looking for my social security card (which i actually eventually found) among the family papers and turned up a strange folder full of documents pertaining to my early formal education, i guess one would say—old report cards, a bunch of score reports from intelligence tests that were creepily administered to me as a young child, things like that. (i had to dig deep into the past to find the social security card.) i took the folder so i can peruse and/or destroy its contents at my leisure but i have already read a downright heinous letter that my mother wrote to my third grade teacher—i can’t figure out what the occasion was, but apparently my mother’s thoughts in re: me were solicited, or she thought they were—but the letter reads like a college entrance essay that the woman wrote for herself. does that make sense? it is so batshit that i must include some representative passages:
…Dora is our only child and we are devoted to her, when she was in the first grade we had her assessed for giftedness…She led a bit of a schizophrenic existence, reading Gertrude Stein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and James Baldwin at Hopkins, and Frog and Toad Together at school…She grew to despise math…This led to a continuing cycle of dialogue between her teacher and us, with him continually doubting her ability to do the work at the pace he was teaching it, and our continually insisting that she remain in the “top” math group in order to reinforce her belief in her own ability. The math problem stems from the fact that she does not believe in her mathematical ability…she is both extremely self-critical and extremely self-aware…She avidly watches the evening news and is fluent in current events. With a lawyer for a mother and a high school principal for a father, Dora has learned how to argue long and well! She is well-behaved but is not above instigating all-out pandemonium if the mood strikes her. She is very sensitive to criticism and easily wounded…So obsessed was she with the culture of the ancient Egyptians that we acquired many books…At one point we thought we were going to have to learn the names of all the ancient Egyptian gods! Then, after weeks and months of this intense immersion into all things Egyptian, she apparently decided she’d had enough of that subject and abruptly moved on to another interest. The subjects she has immersed herself in this way include Greece and Rome, mythology, psychic phenomena (a phase we were glad to see pass!), Super Mario Brothers, and Scotland…She has many friends and is very popular, especially with the boys….At the same time, however, there is simply no reason for her to be reading texts like Frog and Toad Together…Please feel free to call on us, at home or work, at any time.
Dora’s Sinister Parents // emphasis mine