Number of posts: 13
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By Susan Wilson:
arboreal sartorial choices
When I was young, Mamie Lattimer lived across the street from my grandmother in Jackson, Mississippi. Her yard could only be charitably described as a jungle. My grandmother loved it. In the summer, you weren’t sure there was really a house there. Crepe myrtles, hollyhock, lantana (in the one sunny area), nandina, magnolia, and other assorted bushes, shrubs, and bulbs not readily apparent covered every inch of the corner lot. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really appreciated why it was Dar (my grandmother–short for Darling Darling. Proof your grandkids will call you whatever they damn well please)…
Other than the stress of not having a playground buddy for recess, the worst part of school was word problems. To paraphrase an internet meme, every word problem reads the same way to me:
Two cars travel at 53.5 mph when the train leaves the station at 6:01 PM.
How much change will Sally have if grapefruits are 4 for $1.00?
I’m not sure how my parents got through word problem homework with me without massive doses of Valium. Maybe they didn’t. I’d cry, pull my hair, have panic attacks.
I haven’t watched morning news shows in some several years mainly because if I wanted to see two middle aged women sitting around getting drunk, I’d invite a friend over. Also there doesn’t seem to be any news anymore. Yes, I love hearing about every step Wills and Kate take, but occasionally I like something with a little more substance. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I like my morning news to tell me if we went to war with North Korea overnight or if Greece still exists. KIDDING!
My husband’s family has this cabin in the woods of Tennessee near Land Between The Lakes called Sunset Lodge. It’s less the horror movie set it sounds like and more of a magical nirvana where there is no internet or cellphone reception except at like two in the morning when the moon is full. I mean, yes, there was that one time the lake haints and woods zombies carried off a friend’s pomeranian, but we considered that more a stroke of good fortune than an actual haunting. It’s kind of a fancy place. The man who built it had high hopes his family would spend a lot of time out there. The wife went once and said they’d never go back. When my husband’s grandfather bought it after the man’s death, there were still monogrammed linens in it.
My friend Des is a Southerner stuck in Chicago for twenty years now. It happens. He pines for, well, pines. Specifically the Piney Woods of Mississippi where we grew up. I periodically remind him about humidity, the fact that the bugs are going to be big enough this summer to saddle and ride to work, and that I am actually acquainted with people who still believe central air is sent from Satan to tempt us into a life of wickedness and not sending thank you notes. I’m not trying to talk him out of it; I’m being realistic. After twenty years the memories of home are more of the misty water-colored variety. CRAWFISH! SPIDER LILIES! SCREEN DOORS!
A good friend came for a visit last summer, and I served her a homemade lasagne quattro formaggi. It’s the sort of thing that sounds really difficult and convoluted, but really isn’t. I mean, it’s noodles and mornay sauce. Oh, there may have been some funghi and prezzemolo involved for kicks and giggles. It’s a bit time consuming, but not difficult. She wanted to know if we ate like that a lot or if it was just because she was there. My husband sort of cocked his head, a forkful of cheesy goodness perched in front of his mouth, and asked her what she meant. “This is how we eat,” he said with a note of confusion in his voice.
As a high school senior, I traveled to Chicago for a national forensics competition (speech and drama, not CSI). The only thing I remember about the other contestants was that a guy from Kansas asked where I was from. His response upon learning I was from Mississippi was to say, “Wow, and you’re wearing shoes and everything!” What I meant to say was, “Well, your regional biases are not going to get you far in life. Diversity is what makes this country great.” Instead, what came out was, “Listen up, hayseed, you’re from Kansas. You’ve got no business looking down your corn-fed nose at anyone.”
It’s not that I’ve never understood being from the South was going to set me up to be the punch line of a joke or two.
Paths to Enlightenment
I have a double life. It’s a long story, but I moonlight as a fake Life Coach. What’s a Life Coach and why does it deserve to be capitalized? Well, I don’t really know the answers to those things. The total lack of regulation of Life Coaching is why I’m into it. Seriously, I really don’t know what a Life Coach does. It seems to involve telling a client you can be the best you you can be if you are willing to be the you you want to be. Then you light sage and set your intentions by writing a letter to your spirit animal. You then burn the letter to give it back to the universe. It’s a closed system, you know.
A Life Coach tells people what to do. I am good with both people AND telling them what to do.
I spent the better part of twenty years of my life attempting to excise the Southern from my voice. I summarily refused any fruit or vegetable canned at home rather than on a conveyor belt. There was also a dark period when I called dressing stuffing. I know. I want to pop her jaws, too. I remember one particular family gathering in Louisiana where my cousins and I were discussing college. I straightened my pearls (I might have a dalliance with stuffing from time to time, but you can pry my pearls from my cold, dead neck), flipped my hair, and reported I was looking at Bennington College in Vermont. My adorable cousin said, “Oh, that’s rad. Isn’t that where they make the sweaters?” It was the ‘80s. Bennetton was HUGE.
Now I’m over all that …
I am now realizing there is no way for me to write about the Occupy Wall Street Movement without sounding like somebody’s mama; Andy Rooney with PMS and a Deep South accent; or a typically jaded, holier-than-thou Generation Xer. I am fine, by the way, with all of those things. I just want you to know I know. I have wanted to write about Occupy Wall Street, but I haven’t really had an idea of what part of it I wanted to tackle. In trying to figure out what avenue to take, I’ve had this conversation a lot:
Me: So what do you think about the Occupy Movement?
Friend: What the hell do they want? What’s their point?
Me: They’re concerned about unequal distribution of wealth and the shrinking influence of the middle class, among other things.
Friend: Well, hell’s bells. Beatin’ on bongos ain’t the way to stop it.
Strong Letter to Follow
I understand you don’t care about me. I understand that because I am not a corporation, because I have a uterus, because my name doesn’t end in “Inc.,” because I don’t make $25,000,000 a year that I am not now, nor will I ever be, important to you. I get it. All I have is my vote. So I understand that even if you were to read this, you would ignore it. I understand that even if I were standing in front of you reading this, you’d act as if you were listening, pat me on my head, and send me on my way. But I’m going to keep going. Because I foolishly believe that my vote counts. That my voice counts. And that if I keep yelling, maybe one day you will pay attention.
I don’t even know where to start. So I guess I’ll start with a story.
In March of 1993, Dr. David Gunn, an OB/GYN practicing in Pensacola, FL was shot three times in the back and killed by anti-choice terrorist Michael Griffin. It was said that Griffin was under the sway of a man called John Burt. Burt had claimed to be “spiritual advisor” to a group responsible for bombing several women’s clinics. In 1991, Burt purchased land next to the Pensacola Women’s Medical Services Clinic where Dr. Gunn practiced, and Burt and his followers used this land to raise holy hell without violating obstruction laws. Burt was known to carry a jar containing “Baby Charlie” which he claimed was an aborted four-month-old fetus.