Authors: Lesley Choyce
Copyright Â© Lesley Choyce, 2002
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise (except for brief passages for purposes of review) without the prior permission of Dundurn Press. Permission to photocopy should be requested from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.
Editor: Barry Jowett
Copy-Editor: Jennifer Bergeron
Design: Jennifer Scott
Printer: AGMV Marquis
National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data
Choyce, Lesley, 1951-
Â Â Â Â Shoulder the sky / Lesley Choyce.
PS8555.H668S47 2002Â Â Â Â Â jC813'.54Â Â Â Â Â C2002-902282-7Â Â Â Â Â PR9199.3.C497S47 2002
1Â Â Â Â Â 2Â Â Â Â Â 3Â Â Â Â Â 4Â Â Â Â Â 5Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 06Â Â Â Â Â 05Â Â Â Â Â 04Â Â Â Â Â 03Â Â Â Â Â 02
We acknowledge the support of the
Canada Council for the Arts
Ontario Arts Council
for our publishing program. We also acknowledge the financial support of the
Government of Canada
Book Publishing Industry Development Program
The Association for the Export of Canadian Books
, and the
Government of Ontario
Ontario Book Publishers Tax Credit
Care has been taken to trace the ownership of copyright material used in this book. The author and the publisher welcome any information enabling them to rectify any references or credit in subsequent editions.
J. Kirk Howard, President
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Special thanks to Julia Swan for early editorial suggestions, Barry Jowett for his enthusiasm and editorial work, Jennifer Bergeron for copy-editing, and Malcolm M. Ross for suggesting the title, which is borrowed from a poem by A.E. Houseman.
This book is dedicated to my friend Luigi Costanzo, and all other professionals who work with troubled kids.
I'm sure I had problems even before she died â my mother, that is. After her death, everyone seemed to think that my biggest problem was that I didn't have any problems. Life went on as normal for me without any really obvious changes. That's why I went to see Dave, a psychiatrist unlike any other shrink around. Unconventional is probably the word that fits.
Dave encouraged me to write my story, and now that it's done, I don't mind that you are reading this. I originally meant to show only Dave and no one else, but then I figured, what the heck. So, if you are reading this now, I don't feel it's like an invasion of privacy or anything.
There's probably not going to be much here that is all that secret. All you will find out is what happened, what I really thought, what I felt, and what I imagined. I better admit up front, though, that I had holes in my memory.
Like holes in socks or black holes in deep space. Like missing pages from a book or scenes snipped out of a movie.
Also, I should tell you that, in a sense, there were three versions of me. There was the regular, not-too-interesting private me: Martin Emerson. Then there was the enigmatic public persona of me that was created for the Internet at Emerso.com. Even though it ends in com, I never sold stuff. The site was very successful. I wrote about anything that went through my head. I also gave advice for free to anyone who wanted to hear what I had to say. People in the real world knew me as Martin Emerson. On the web, I somehow evolved into Emerso. People who visited my site didn't know I was only sixteen years old. They believed I was older and smarter than I really was. More on that later.
Then there was the no-name Martin, Martin number three. This version couldn't remember parts of the past and sometimes couldn't remember where he was the night before. I didn't have too many clues about exactly who he was or what he was up to. Not until we left for Alaska.
Anyway, Dave always wanted me to write something about my mother and my father, so I'll start there. If I get going about website stuff again, tell me to shut up.
My mother was creative. She made paintings of places that looked completely different from where we lived.
My father thought they looked like Asia, but I always thought they were alien landscapes: the deserts of Mars, maybe, or swirling gassy places on Jupiter. But my father was pretty sure it was Asia. My sister, Lilly, always said she hated my mother's paintings. Until my mother died, that is, and then Lilly put many of the paintings in her room â the ones that were finished. The unfinished ones, my father tried to complete, and that didn't turn out well at all.
My mother once told me that painting is just another way of keeping a diary. This didn't help explain the alien/Asian landscape paintings, but maybe it fits in with Dave's idea about me keeping a journal.
For a long time after my mom's death I called my father the Invisible Man. Sometimes you could see him when he moved through rooms or went out the door. You could see him clearly when he was behind the wheel of the van, backing too quickly out the driveway. But most of the time he was invisible. Or not there at all.
My very first posting on Emerso.com went like this.
Welcome to my website. This website is designed to improve the world, and if you aren't interested in that you
should probably go to another site. That's perfectly fine with me. I will update it when I have the time. If you found this at all, it is probably because you were looking for something else. My friend the Egg Man taught me how to mess with search engines. He is really good if you ever want the world to go to your website. I think he charges money now but he did it for me for free â as they say, that's what friends are for.
The Egg Man taught me how to do this: let's say you want to find out about how zippers work, or if coffee can kill you, or you want to know more about Britney Spears' tonsillectomy (or maybe it's Madonna), or, say,
toys. You type in “Madonna” or “
toys” and you end up at Emerso.com.
I just wanted to be up front about how you got here. You can leave any time you like but if you stick around you may learn something. I've got a few things figured out and I'm figuring out more every day. I hope to deal with the really difficult issues, like what is the meaning of life, and why do people die, but I will also be discussing less important things like brand names, politics, coffee, revenge, teachers, chewing gum, and whether or not God exists. I'm not selling anything on this website so you don't have to have your credit card handy.
Also, my friend the Egg Man taught me how to make sure that my identity remains a secret. If you try to trace the origin of the site, you'll hit a dead end. It's not that I'm
famous or doing anything illegal. I just want my privacy. We all deserve our privacy. That's one of the rules here at Emerso.com. It's my only rule so far, but I'll probably come up with a few others as things develop.
So far there are seven choices to click on if you want to explore Emerso further:
1. Meaning of Life (under construction).
2. Stuff That May or May Not Be Important.
7. The Universe.
If you are wasting time like this, just goofing around on the Internet and still at my site, it's possible that your life is, well, not all that exciting. No offence. Just a candid observation. Some of what I have to offer may or may not help, but one thing I am sure of is that you have a limited time here on earth, so you need to get on with something or other â just about anything, as long as it doesn't hurt people or small animals.