Thursday, August 14, 2008

I STILL aten't dead.

Even though it's been long enough to realize that absolutely nobody is still checking this blog (I double-checked the stats, flatlined at zero for at least a month), that's no excuse not to use it.  I have, of course, had many other excuses not to use it in the past few months but it's nearing four in the morning, I've nothing planned in the morning and I'm unable to sleep anyway.

It hasn't been the greatest week for sleep.  After several months of professionally and personally preparing for an extended stay overseas, packing up every bit of my life in Oklahoma and sending it to the boat, dragging that furry bastard on a plane ride to Pennsylvania so that my sister can feed him (I can't bring myself to trust anyone in Oklahoma City to care for a cat, there are too many stray cats wandering around.  Someone is letting them loose), I came home to discover that my mother has decided to drown me in the best aspects of American Culture before I cross the Atlantic and forget everything here.

Or perhaps she's trying to make me feel better about leaving the country.

You need to understand what I mean by American Culture to truly get what sort of week this has been.  When people ask where I'm from, I like to say "Scranton."  I say that so that it'll sound like I'm actually from somewhere.  I'm not.  I'm not even from a town.  I grew up in a township.  I could never name the mayor of this township, because I wasn't sure (and still aren't sure) that there was one.  The most well-known person in the township seemed to be my father.  I suspect this was because he was a policeman.  Near as I can figure, there were only five policemen in the entire county, and they worked part time for the different municipalities.  There are a lot of trees here.  And some hills.  And on certain nights growing up all of my father's relatives (who lived within two miles of the house) would gather together at dinner and it would end with my parents strumming old country hymns such as "Green Green Grass of Home" and "In the Garden" on ukuleles and forcing the kids to sing along.  I went to a school district where, if you were late for school one morning and went to sign in with your excuse it wasn't uncommon to see "Horses got loose" in a previous spot on the sheet.  My coworkers at my first job asked if I rode a donkey to school when they found out where I was being taught.

The woods all around where I lived where posted "No Trespassing" signs, and I used to sneak lightly around them worried about some old hillbilly with a shotgun aiming for anyone who crosses his land.  I thought I was lucky to not be under fire when I wandered those woods.  It was my mother's comparatively upscale upstate New York relatives who finally clued me in that the old hillbilly with the shotgun was my own father, and that the "No Trespassing" signs were to keep hunters from wandering in and mistaking the little brown-haired girl in the brown coat for a deer wandering those woods.

Now, I suppose you could attribute my reluctance to name my home"town" right off when someone asks where I'm from to shame, but really it's just weariness.  After so many times of explaining what a township is and just where in the larger-than-it-seems state of Pennsylvania mine might be I just settled on the nearest city as a workable location.  I couldn't honestly say I was from Philadelphia or New York, but if asked I could say that Scranton was somewhere in between and leave it at that without too many people trying to find out what a township is.

On the contrary, rather than shame I've encountered more often a strain of that irritating hillbilly pride--irritating because the hillbilly/redneck/hic/yokel/etc pride turns out to be just as judgmental and snobbish as the upper class city stereotype it rails against for being snobbish and judgmental and hypocrisy is just fucking annoying no matter where you find it--in me.  This is due to the exact position of where I'm from.  With Philadelphia to the south and New York to the north, I never labored under the impression that Scranton was the proverbial "Big City."  I knew exactly what a big city looked like and San Antonio, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Chicago, St Louis--none of them impressed me like people figured they would a sheltered hillbilly girl who just joined the military.  Indeed, my friend Liz from Wyoming insisted that I was from a city and just didn't know what real country looked like when I wasn't impressed by San Antonio.

But on the other hand, San Antonio is no slouch.  Neither are any of the other cities I've seen New Yorker and Los Angelino Airmen turn their noses up at.  The idea that San Antonio is a small town or has a small town feel is fucking ridiculous and the expression of that idea only proved to me that a certain Airman's Chicago apartment was just as sheltered as any Wyoming ranch.  After the fourth of fifth idiotic Airman from either side, I realized that growing up in the wilderness meat of a megalopolis sandwich had given me a sense of perspective that many people lacked.  And to this day I use that sense of perspective to feel superior to country folk and city folk alike.

But I'm rambling again, the point was to illustrate what my mother meant by "American Culture."  In the past week and a half I have been to the Pocono Speedway (I got to watch the cars go round and round and round), Gettysburg (which was actually pretty fucking cool and I would advise anyone who sets foot in the United States to visit that town), New York (People where I grew up tend to consider this city something of a large shopping center with a good theater attached, so we made a conscious effort to sightsee this time), Hershey (where we forgot to buy chocolate for my father), and a Toby Keith/Montgomery Gentry concert and I haven't gotten my comics for a few weeks.  I've had some fun in all that but I'm pretty fucking tired and I've been pretty fucking busy, and I still have a transatlantic flight to look forward to.  And a foreign country.  Which I strongly suspect will throw that finely tuned sense of perspective out of whack.

I'm going to Germany, and while I've been both excited and freaked out I find myself with just two main thoughts:

1) I'm so glad my high school didn't offer German lessons.  Four years of sleeping through Spanish left me with the embarrassing tendency to nod off whenever I heard the language, which was just plain awkward in San Antonio.

2) The scene in Frankenstein with all the villagers carrying torches and pitchforks.  But I'm not sure if that's a sign of prejudice or anxiety.

So, if anyone was wondering why this and my other online projects are so dead this summer, it's because I had bigger and more annoying things going on and it might continue for a bit.