An Embarrassing Life: Chapter 2

I was in the seventh grade when I opened my first e-mail account. I’m part of the generation that remembers that switchover from a normal childhood into an increasingly tech-filled adolescence. Everything about the internet was magnificent in those years – Netscape, Napster chatrooms, MSN messenger and Shockwave games.

Willy Wonka took me by the hand and, what would years later be immortalized in a meme, led me to a world of pure procrastination. Websites were psychedelic, coaxing me through tunnels of blue font on black backgrounds, gifs created in Microsoft Paint, iframes with broken links and star trails behind my cursor.

When I was thirteen, I had mastered how to swiftly and quietly descend the stairs in the middle of the night. It involved holding my breath throughout the entire trajectory from bedroom to staircase to den. I had to first get around any creaky spots in my bedroom floor, which usually involved leaping to the edge of my room. I then quietly landed on the threshold of my door (we weren’t allowed to close our bedroom doors when I was young so there was no obstacle there), and did a graceful pirouette to the edge of the staircase. I’m not sure what a pirouette is but it sounds like what I did.


Here I was in crosshairs between my sister’s bedroom door and my parents’ french-doored boudoir, one door always propped open to allow for sound surveillance, one pane of glass punched cleanly out by my youngest sister in a fit of rage. I usually stopped here to listen for sounds of movement. The carpeted stairs I descended in the manner of Cate Blanchett as Galadriel – swiftly, expertly controlling the distribution of weight from toes to arches to heels.

When I hit the bottom of the stairs, I was greeted with noiseless tile floor and the subtle hum of the family computer. I might as well have been like a moth to a flame, stealing away secret hours with the internet. These days, I along with everyone else go to bed holding a smartphone or tablet in front of my face. Back then, people had to introduce a measure of cunning to get that kind of access to the web.

Here I was on an unassuming night, ears always perked for sounds of danger while I concentrated on things I simply had to do on the web. I got lost in the sound of mouse clicks and my eyes strained to read poor-contrast text. This is of course the moment my mom peered into the den and showered me in a blanket of parental disappointment with a side of utter mortification.

You think you’d know what a thirteen year old does on the internet, but parents underestimate how aware kids are of what’s out there and how quickly they get over it. Then again, it was much, much less embarrassing to let my mom think I just got caught doing something “bad” on the internet than what I was really doing.

Building a fan website for my thirteen-year-old self’s favourite fictional pairing – Padme and Anakin.


The words did not even exist at the time to explain what that meant. Tumblr and Netflix and generally growing up with the internet have changed peoples’ understanding of fandom today, but when I was thirteen, it was a SECRET SHAME.

TL;DR: I used to sneak onto the computer in the middle of the night to build websites in the name of fandom.

My Work Week in TV Themes

Orphan Black

Walking to work in a haze, still shaking off the dreamscape weekend and feeling oddly biological.

House of Cards

It’s close enough to the beginning of the week to plan for the rest of the week, without it being a Monday. Most likely to wear a suit on this day.

Downton Abbey

Feeling the mid-week hump, but also some strange whimsical energy pushing tasks forward and making rose petals drop delicately on desks.

It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia

Morning is likely to be productive, but things devolve by mid-afternoon into impromptu dancing.

The Price is Right

You win a weekend! YOU win a weekend! YOU ALL WIN A WEEKEND!

An Embarrassing Life: Chapter I

When I was eleven years old, my mom let me shave my legs for the first time. For a lot of girls, this was a step into womanhood. For me, it just meant I could be less of the foreign hairy kid and more of a normal preteen on the cusp of my adolescent years. Seeing the bare skin on my legs for the first time was a profound experience – I could almost feel the clouds parting over my head and winged babies trumpeting into my ears.

Of course, the ritual was meant to be a secret. When I exited the bathroom in search of leg cream, my mom quickly whisked me out of the living room – as if not talking about the fact that my legs went from a 12 o’clock shadow to an ivory(ish) glint in the course of an hour (and i’m sure it took that long) would mean nobody would notice.

Obviously, people notice puberty. They often anticipate it with a sort of malicious glee. I can’t count the number of times I’ve pointed out the wiry hairs on a cousin’s upper lip. Even more than puberty, people notice when children reach the age where they begin to have to deal with it.

Shaving legs. Shaving moustaches. Wearing deodorant. Plucking eyebrows. Scrubbing blackheads. Buying new undergarments.

Suddenly, I was as aware of the need for some of these changes as the adults around me were.

Standing alone in the bathroom, I spent a long time deciphering the number of individual hairs connecting my left eyebrow to my right one. Why were they there? What was their purpose? Why, when I hovered the tip of a ball-point pen around them, could I feel a strange tingling as if they were magnetized?

With calculated boldness, I grabbed my dad’s razor (a move I can only equate to an understanding that this razor was for facial hair), and with a careful sweep, removed my unibrow.

Suddenly, I had the long, disconnected brows of an Arabian princess. Quickly replacing the razor, I told no one.

The first person to notice was my best friend, peering at my face while raising her plucked, arched eyebrows. Why didn’t my eyebrows have an arch? And why did they continue so far past the corners of my eyes? I decided to re-evaluate them that night.

As I stood in front of the mirror again, brandishing my dad’s razor in one hand and using the other to cover up a part of my eyebrow in search of a perfect length, I thought to myself – “Will these new eyebrows go with my crop top? Will I be cool”. For reasons unknown, I had a weekend crop-top in the fifth grade – white with blue printed flowers, kind of like a tablecloth or a mom’s pyjamas.

I emerged from the bathroom having removed approximately half of each eyebrow, so that they ended just about where my natural arches began.

Obviously, my parents noticed. Other adults did, too.

The next day as I walked around in my crop top, aunts and uncles stopped to examine my face a little longer. Sparing my feelings, no one said anything. If I were the aunt in this situation, I would have quickly turned away to stop from laughing directly in my niece’s face. My aunts and uncles had decorum I currently lack, and deferred to my parents in this matter of preteen beauty standards gone awry.

When everyone had left, we watched some opera on TV. My dad – ever the indirect dispenser of wisdom – looked from the opera singer on TV to me and said, “you used to have nice, long eyebrows like that”.

I felt myself deflate. I could almost hear the wronged hairs pushing out of my skin at his words. Stubbornly, I kept shaving them for another week or so before growing them back and learning to use a pair of tweezers and to this day, they’re still a little sparse.

New Year’s Resolutions

New Years Resolutions - Nairi Apkarian

I won’t bore you with financial or fitness goals (pretend I have millions of dollars and abs you could grate carrots with). How about some creative ones?

1. Prepare repertoire for a 1-hour concert

I have severe performance anxiety when it comes to classical piano. It doesn’t help that I can picture my mom being anxious for me in the audience. In some miraculous feat, I have a degree in piano performance. We all know the old adage, “Those who can’t, teach”. The issue isn’t that I can’t… it’s that I don’t and won’t. So, honey needs to get some Level 10 and ARCT pieces together for a concert because this is just embarrassing.

2. Make a festival-worthy short film

Film-making brings a whole lot of things I like together. Though most video work I do is related to companies and corporations, I love well-crafted fiction and documentary. I’d like to write/direct/edit/shoot something for the fall festival season.

3. Write a short story / novella

I was very envious of friends who participated in NaNoWriMo this year. I admit most of my writing efforts have gone into frivolous things – I’d like to channel them into a real piece of fiction that is witty, profound, honest, dramatic, and any other word you’d find in a pretentious book review.

4. Finish and record some musical compositions

Why not. Everyone’s doing it!

5. Write on this blog

I will write here this year. I’ve started blogs many times only to wipe them clean shortly thereafter. It has something to do with being in a reboot-cycle, which is a tale for another day. In the meantime, I’d love to add ram to my computer because it’s hard to live like it’s 2015 when your computer spins its wheels like it’s 1999.