Monday, August 08, 2005

The Outsider

I'm sure everyone that has moved away from what they call home has gone through this, but here are some of my personal experiences.

From a personal standpoint, the construction industry is so much more interesting in Chicago because of my history and personal connection to it. Having gone to school with so many other architects and working with or alongside them, it gives a personal connection to many of the projects being built and the people who work on them. It will be very difficult and take a long time in order to get that type of connection here in Montreal. Also, I always get excited to see new tall buildings being built. There is a building boom in Chicago right now, so there are tall buildings being constructed all around downtown. It's that combination of personal connection and active construction that I do miss about Chicago.

There is also another part about being an outsider and that is to pop culture. Many things are the same, but many are much different. As I mentioned to a friend in Chicago, my knowledge of pop trivia is not utilized very much here in Montreal. I'm talking about things like who sang this song, this or that movie, or do you remember that TV episode. Sometimes it's harder to relate with people here because our common childhood background is different. It's not a huge part of life, but it is noticed when it is missing.

Another aspect to being an outsider is daily banter. The office I am at currently has a bit of a nose to the grindstone ambiance so there is less banter, but still people don't talk about the same issues as in Chicago. Much of that is due to different interests. In Chicago we would talk about the current sport, current US movies, travel, and items in the US news. Here the topics tend to be hockey, items covered by Quebec news, and much more local topics. To tell you the truth, it kinda takes the fun out of seeing a cool new movie when there is often no one else who has seen it or wants to see it. Same applies to the other topics. Living vicariously through the internet is not quite the same as being able to discuss things on a daily basis. There may be people here with those same interests, but the general population I have come across is not interested in those topics. It is one of the things I really miss. Maybe that's why I write the blog. To be able to share some things with others back home and fint out if there is anyone here who has these interests.

Lastly, there is one thing nice about being an outsider. If you accept it in some ways, you can feel a bit liberated. What I mean is that people already see you as someone different and they are willing to chalk up anything different about you as being due to that larger difference. Does that make sense? For instance, when I lived in France, I wore my hair long and dressed all in black with a black leather biker jacket. I got condescending looks from the Versaille elite who must have figured it was because I was a goofy American. Condescending looks from people back home are different because there is that personal connection.


Anonymous said...

I share your difficulties, and quite often, even with fellow chicago natives--but my difficulties stem form perceptions that are at odds with others. For example, a coworker and i might have viewed the same film; however, neither of us share the same perception of the film. I find most others view a film with the solely (or largely and for the most part) the narrative in mind--and that I view a film as the object itself for consideration. That is to say--how was this idea realized as a visual medium, and are there other visual possibilities that more adequately capture the idea of the director?

I find this sensibility out of step with others....

jason palma

Unknown said...

Have you ever thought of going into art?

That is one of the great things about DVD's that included small presentations with director comment (not the feature where they drone on over the film). It is very interesting to see behind the scenes and what their ideas were. Signs and Eternal Sunshine are two that did this very well.

My point was that whereas I had many people with similar viewpoints in Chicago, I have not found more than a couple here. None that I can talk to on a regular basis. Granted there were many people back home who I often did not see things in the same light, but there were more that I did.