Common Denominator of the Fringe

In high school, I got tired of how the best roles in the school shows went to the kid who kissed ass the most. So I stopped performing at my high school and quit the show choir, because I refused to be That Kid.

In college, I was way too busy and way too stressed to be a fringe member of anything. Stupid science major.

After college, though?

I got tired of how the children’s theater organization was being run by the same people who had run it for almost 40 years. The same ol’ same ol’ fairy tales aren’t stimulating to me as a director or as a performer, and I got tired of the politics involved every time I wanted to do something different. So I got out of that, too.

I got tired of how the majority of quilters seem to be traditional in style, sneering at the contemporary colors, patterns, and free-motion machine quilting that I like to do. I like to try new things, I like to explore new ideas. And many times I feel like I’m being patted on the head and smiled at kindly by older, wiser women. I don’t want to do the same ol’ same ol’ — it’s just not stimulating to me.

At church, I’m frustrated with the same ol’ same ol’ political garbage that I imagine infiltrates every church. My first instinct is to run, to get away from it, but I know that I just can’t do that. More than thirty years invested in this church… It’s not time to leave yet. But when I was on the Vestry, I was frequently the lone dissenting vote, representing a small percentage of the congregation that is so frequently overlooked because we’re so outnumbered.

In scrapbooking, I’ve done the unthinkable and “gone digital.” I do almost all of my scrapbook pages in Photoshop now, instead of with the traditional paper and glue. You’d think I was sacrificing babies with the reactions that some have had to this revelation. I like scrapbooking, but dang. Something’s got to give. I was bored. And the only way to stop being so bored was to do something totally different, which could either cost LOTS of money with paper scrapping as I bought/explored new products, or could involve learning Photoshop. Knowing how to use Photoshop builds the resume. Spending money at the scrapbook store does not. At least the choice I made had some logic to it, right?

Why do I mention all of this? Because I have come to realize that maybe I like to be the dissenting vote. Maybe I need to be the small population that is different, just to be different. It’s not a comfortable realization. But I’ve always been like this. In 6th grade, I was the ONLY girl to go through the neon phase at my school. The only one. And I still get mocked for that. But it was so FUN — I remember some of the clothes I had that year. I don’t remember specific clothes from a specific year for any other year of my life. But that one? I definitely do. It was fun to swim upstream.

Maybe that’s where it comes from. But apparently if you want to have some opposition in your group, I’m your girl. People have been asking me to start an Art Quilt group in Huntsville for years. I’m not quite sure it’s the right time for that, but knowing that being on the fringe has been a pattern for me — all of my life — makes me understand a little more why people tend to come to me with ideas like that.

Do I really want this role? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It can be very frustrating, because every new idea has to be pitched. You can’t just float an idea and have it sail through easily. People always expect some opposition from me. And Passionate Opposition, too, since I always freaking cry when I care about something a lot.

I’m glad my parents raised me to swim upstream and not be afraid. But I wish sometimes that it weren’t such an inherent part of who I am. Sometimes I wish I could just be happy with the status quo. But it’s just not who I am, I guess.