Archive for June, 2009

It Coulda Been Me: Diggin’ In The Dirt.
June 27, 2009

I’m bad at bein’ subtle
But I ain’t that tough, no

Just a
victim of circumstance
Didn’t you know

                                                                                                                       –Joan Jett, Victim of Circumstance

 (Run Away Behaviors)

Growing up or otherwise living with an addict of any kind predisposes those around said addict to certain behaviors. I have a tendency toward ‘runaway behaviors.’ Runaway behaviors come in two classes, for me, there is the ‘Fuck Everything And Run’-expressly physical manifestation of runaway behaviors and then there are the ‘unchecked’ behaviors, wherein no ‘physical‘ departure is (necessarily) required.

Just so we’re clear! I am not in the habit of skulking out by way of the shadows, slipping out the window or vanishing on a dime. (No, really. Hear me out on this.) When I go, I pack my shit and leave. I walk out the front door. I’m not likely to explain and we certainly won’t be discussing it. I will just be gone.  That’s how I run. (Ha!) Accordingly, it has taken me a minute to subscribe to this behavior as ‘running’ at all. (A word on Semantics! Semantics are not infrequently the bane of my existence. I spend half my waking hours parsing out wtf words even mean: signifier/signified. Case in point, ‘running away’ formally , by definition (adj.) means “having run away; escaped; fugitive.” Informally, it means, (adj.) “deserting or revolting against one’s group, duties, expected conduct, or the like…” It can not  BE all of the above! Is it escaping or is it deserting, which one? These are not interchangeable terms! ‘Usage‘ is useless! Of course I know what I mean when employing the term but how the hell am I supposed to know what you mean?) You see, by my definition it isn’t running away if you WALK out the front door. There is no desertion. It isn’t about fear, it’s about resolve.  I’ll walk out smiling and I won’t look back not for a really really long time anyway. How could a (willful?) decision to leave with no obfuscation involved be “running away?” 

It took encountering a ‘new’ term or, more accurately, a  familiar term in a new context (fucking semantics!) for me to clarify my grasp of the runaway concept, twas the term “geographic.” Used in a sentence, as it would apply to me–I pulled a geographic. That clears it up, right? To ‘pull a geographic’ is to leave; to relocate oneself on the map in the interest of leaving behind or otherwise escaping the realities of one’s current geographic location. Turns out, I am not the first person to ‘pull a geographic.’ It’s a common practice really. Well…among a certain kind of people anyway. You see, it follows a certain logic: this ‘place’ is fucked, I’ll go to a ‘place’ that isn’t. Makes perfect sense, right? The most obvious example of my pulling a geographic, was in my departure from my hometown. I left there 15 years ago and did so with the understanding that if I EVER went back I would die there. Writ large, most people had no idea that I was leaving at all and those that did did not believe that I was serious. And why would they?  I provided little to no details on the rational or timing of my departure. The only people who well and truly knew were those directly effected  by my departure. Specifically, these would have been the folks that I asked for help with the move or the ones notified that I was moving out of our shared dwelling. Bye. 

My departure from my home town may have seemed startling but it should not have it wasn’t an anomaly in my behavior. I had developed by that point quite the penchant for ‘abrupt’ departures. When I am done, I leave. I said that, right? By the time I had physically left my home town I had fully habituated my ability to walk away from a conversation, a situation,  or a RELATIONSHIP without saying a fucking word. I learned to disengage  or “detach” from (nearly) anything or anyone and I did so with all the tact of a practiced cleaver. By the time I had left there were very few people that I maintained (healthy) relationships with. Not incidentally, there were also very few elements of my own identity that I still recognized or acknowledged either. Pulling a geographic, it turns out, was simply the most DRASTIC expression (up to that point in my life) of a fully incorporated and oft practiced behavior.

Cutting elements and/or people out of my life in the manner described above, for much of my life, has seemed the only prudent course of action. I can not honestly sit here and suggest that I believed there was any other way to conduct myself or my affairs. Coming to terms with my departures as an example of ’runaway behaviors’ has necessarily led to the reexamination of any number of other instances  in my life, wherein, I have “run away, escaped, deserted and /or revolted” against certain circumstances, situations or people.  I’m not proud of this behavior. Nor, would I even begin to suggest that I have this behavior in check. What I do know is that for the first time in my life I am aware of it for exactly what it is. My tendency to ‘cut and run’ is in fact a learned BEHAVIOR as opposed to an intrinsic part of my identity (READ: I wasn’t born a BITCH.) As a behavior it can be recognized, retooled or retired as needed. Additionally, as with all habituated behaviors at one time, for one reason or another, in my life this behavior was useful. It was a means to survival and I am grateful for having survived.

This Blog Was Soundtracked to:

Joan Jett, “Victim of Circumstance”

Social Distortion, “Ball & Chain”

George Strait, “If You’re Thinking You Want A Stranger”

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Canon * Fodder
June 9, 2009

I am a reader by habit and by degree. ‘The’ Literary Canon has never worked for me intellectually or politically (as if the two could be extricated!).  This is true of the ‘traditional’ canons as well as the ‘new.’ For a general understanding of the ‘tradional’ canons think various holy works and dead white guys (in terms of literature). The ‘New’ canon…HA! It incorporates just about anything which was not covered by the ‘traditional’ canon. Which is not to say that there aren’t MUST READ texts which have been canonized, there have been. For me personally the ‘New’ canons hold any number of works that speak to me. Though, as widely contested and as broadly interpreted as the ‘New’ canon is I prefer to just make up my very own canon as I read along.  However, I do find myself on occasion compelled to engage with “Classics” the likes of which I have probably heard reference to for years. Sometimes those engagements work out smashingly well and on other occasions my disdain for publicly subscribed to canons is more than validated.

Strained Strange Land

To that end, I read a “Classic” just about a week ago. Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein has often been hailed as a sci-fi classic! And maybe it was, in 1961. Though, I am hard pressed to imagine how, by very basic literary standards that could be true. “Sci-fi” contribution aside the story in this tale comes completely apart half way through! It turns to NONSENSE! That can not be “classic.” I will not pretend that I am versed enough in the sci-fi genre to speak to Heinlein’s contribution, I am a Star Wars kid and by my standard…well I just don’t see it. Nor, for that matter can the ‘Chick’ in me get past the dated sexist depiction of women. Fucking gag me.  One more “classic” I wish I had left on the way back shelf.

Carry It With You Canon

In terms of my own Canon, however, I revisited a book that I love this week! While travelling through the Southwest this past week it occurred to me that it had been far to long since I read Wilson Rawls, Where The Red Fern Grows! Not entirely certain why the book came back to me in that setting, except, perhaps it looked like the kind of terrain a person would not want to roam without a very good friend or two? Whatever, the impulse, I swung through the library to grab a copy and upon rereading I was struck by an underlying theme I did not carry away with me in my childhood. I thought it was strictly a coming of age story, a boy and his dogs. Rawls, depicted the bonds of friendship and loyalty in a relationship so pure it would take a die hard cynic to be unmoved by the relationship of Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann. What I missed though (entirely) was the secondary(?) theme of Faith. At every turning point in this book Billy is compelled to ask his ‘higher power’ for an assist. Literally, the character hits his knees to pray repeatedly through out the story and on each occasion his request/appeal/demand is met. Though, not in a manner that Billy would or could fully appreciate in his young life. So central and recurrent is Billy’s relationship to God it is absolutely hilarious that I re-entered the text with out a single recollection of faith as a theme in the book. Whichever theme one finds most intriguing, Where The Red Fern Grows, absolutely makes my carry it with you canon.