The South is So...

...i've lived in the South for--brace yourself--twelve years!...and very little has begun to phase me...the blaring cicadas are nearly musical...the paternal family structure is something i now shrug at...i say "y'all" and, even worse, know how to correctly spell it...i've gotten lazy about railing against the mainstream, yelling into the wind, farting in silence...

...i've been especially falling down on the job when it comes to liberal beliefs in a not-so-liberal atmosphere...and it's an election year...for the first time since i could vote, my guy won the last presidential election...i'm so proud i left the bumper sticker on my car...so this year, i've decided to get a new sticker with the same hope for the next four years (if not, i'm really going to ruin my paint trying to get these off in november)...

...and that's when it hit me: i've been in the South way too long...never mind, i just finished reading Absalom! Absalom! and have convinced myself Quentin doesn't hate the South...i've reduced party politics to republicans and democrats...how limiting...

...yes, i've been reading Faulkner, thus the following long, parenthetical tangent that, having read it, will supply my reader with a large payoff at the end of this post...

(...being raised in Southern California by an East Texas grandmother had its challenges...most of them were generational...since she'd grown up without talking on the telephone, i could do the same...she'd grown up cutting grass with scissors, so should i...i was lucky that when i got my period she actually bought me pads instead of making me fold dishrags into a square for my underwear (although, once, during a summer visit to Texas, i had to fold up toilet paper because she didn't want relatives to know i had my period)....

...enough menstrual talk...my one male reader is cringing, hovering his pointer over the big red X...

...most of the time life with grandma was like walking a tightrope...a tightrope that, on a good day, had no safety net...on a bad day barking dogs and vicious attack monkeys vied for a place three stories beneath me with the hope i'd fall and become a tasty snack...i was constantly unsure of my footing, especially when it came to how to think of my Texas family...on one hand, i had to respect them because they were family, grandma's ancestors and blood-kin...my immediate family was small--my mother, her sister, two sisters of my own and two cousins...this clan was like a huge network and each time we visited them i felt myself drawn in...i could see her features in theirs...they knew stories about her from childhood that she wouldn't share...on the other hand, grandma mostly called people from Texas--the South in general--"trash" or my personal favorite "hillbilly pukes"...it would be years before i understood her mixed feelings of her patria and countrymen (material for memoir #2 i'm sure), so most of the time i struggled with how to view the southern part of the united states...

...if the mood struck her to be vague and sincere, grandma would utter the phrase "the south is just behind"...usually she said this when it came to fashion...Southern California trends reflected the pulse of the country, by her estimation...so i'd show up in Texas ready to play with my second and third cousins wearing a color-coordinated outfit direct from May Co. or Bullocks, complete with over-sized accessories, matching bows, and pristine huarache sandals...while the other kids climbed trees i stood in the shade, smacking mosquitoes...they probably took my discomfort for disdain...probably mistook my fear of soiling my clothes--something grandma literally smacked into me--for prissiness...i would've loved to have donned cut offs and a big t-shirt, scaled the deer stand and jumped into the creek...but my clothes wouldn't let me...and i didn't own those other necessities anyway...they were not the pulse of the country...poor, poor South, so behind the trend of making children into Victorian-era dolls...)

...so when i saw a prius with a libertarian bumper sticker i actually thought "oh yeah, right, like you've got a chance!"...then i mentally berated myself and resolved that as part of my punishment for pessimism and momentarily rejecting my very California views of 1) freedom of speech, 2) a better, bigger world, and 3) voting my conscience rather than submitting to the mainstream view, i would post a blog about how behind i've become, how limited...and where that limiting-ness (yep, coined a word) came from...

...i'm not saying that all of my limits come from my restrictive childhood wardrobe, or from a grandmother completely at odds with herself...but i'm sure they played a small part...

...i'll end this blog with promises:

1. i will now be posting at least once a week & I LOVE FEEDBACK so talk to me, let me know you're there, give me ideas for future blogs
2. i will try to include a photograph in every post...my awesome husband bought me a scanner, copier, printer thingy and i want to use it
3. i will not expect you to wear matching outfits in order to keep reading

...the first photo, of which i'm sure grandma would be proud: here she is, probably a few years before my birth in 1977...it's my favorite picture of her and i keep it on my desk as a reminder to lighten up, not take any crap, and generally stick out my tongue in the face of adversity...

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Comments

  1. Wow, 12 yrs! Yikes! Don't let it grow on you, like kudzu. haha
    Also...such a great pic. :)
    xoxo cyn

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  2. I know this post is really old, but I remember your grandmother giving me a plaid western shirt with snaps instead of buttons. It was my first. I thought it was really cool and had it for years, until I outgrew it. I thought it was people in the South wore because I knew she was somehow Southern.

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    Replies
    1. Keren: she loved to give clothes as gifts..,I often think of her as a woman who, if she would've had the resources, would've clothed the world:)

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