Saturday, October 01, 2005

Essay: untitled memoir, Apr. 2004 (Long)

Every day I am struck with the realization that I am at a beginning. Now, sometimes worries, fear and general strss will blind me to this beginning. I find myself in constant danger of losing hope. Flailing about to flee this danger of dipair, Ifind myself struggling against the expectations placed about by the conservative, rual Yankee society I grew up in.

Now, I'm not saying that I grew up in some proverbial back-water where anything more complex then a gun is looked at as the "Devil's work." We've got the bragging rites of having the birthplace of the Women's Rights movement in our backyard and the home of some of the ceturies' greatest inventions too. But there are certian attitudes that stifle you. Attitudes that say thingas about how a girl or a woman should dress, carry themselves and even what's best for them.

Being the only daughter and eldest child of a German-American family that still has alot of Old World views, I was in an interesting position. my family, while not generally viewed as the community's great hope or pride, has always been staunch supporters of the American values of life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. As children, we're raised with a clear view of our rights and the responcibilites attached. Perhaps that bit of Revolutionary heritage helps in that department.

We were also raised to value, nearly crave, knowledge. As children, my brother and I asked innumerable questions. Instead of being told pat answers about matters like why the sky is blue or where babies come from, we were taught. If we didn't understand it was explained. And education wasn't some dusty thing tosit on a shelf, it was alive and practical. We were taught applied knowledge about things ranging from mathematics to science to language. All of this was in the home.

If my parents didn't know the answer, they'd help us find it. We were encouraged to experiment and grow. Most importantly, we were taught to think. Growing up in my parents house, tehre was one rule, think. If you couldn't explain your actions, you caught alot of trouble. If hou had shown some evidence of thought before doing something foolish, like throwing lighters into a burn barrel to watch them explode, the punishment was less severe then for such an act that was thoughtless.

Stupidity came to be defines as a combination of willful ignorance and a refusal to make one's gray matter do more then hold up thier skull. Each of us kids had our stupid moments, but we weren't stupid as a general rule. We were reckless and crazy with the fearless believe in our own immortality that gave our parents and nearby relatives more grey hair then their contemporaries, I'm sure.

I've told many friedns the humorous anectdoes and little stories about our escapades. Quite a few have wanted me to write a book, usualy immediately preceeded or followed by the statement "It's hilarious, like Little House on the Prarie on crack." Apparently not too many folks had either the inclination or the opportunity to do the insane things that my brothers and I did. On one hand I say that may be a good thing, but at the same time it may not be such a good thing. Now I'm not saying that all kids should try to duplicate the stunts of Wil E. Coyote.

But that inventive chaos lead the three of us to life skills that have been a benefit to us. One brother is amazingly good with any machine. He was the one who built most of the contraptions (or death traps, depending on your perspective). The other is a fine Marine who has been rising up through the ranks quickly. That was the fearless daredevil who was usualy the test subject for the inventions of the other. I'm not sure where my childhood skills have flowered as I've matured.

But I know the more practical ones that our parents grille dinto us have benefited us too, like basic fist aid and how to control a fire. Life on a farm isn't all that the media and hollywood shows you. Not every farm has livestock. Where I grew up, we raised grain and rented acres to others to do the same. I can proudly say that we've some of the best gardening and planting soil in the county.

My brothers have always been facinated with machines. They'd take their toys apart to see how they worked. They would continually change and modify their bikes. Not even Dad's bike was safe from their tinkering. It wasn't cars or modle trucks that drew us closer to our father, though. It was kites and model rockets.

Dad helped us build countless kites and model rockets. We went to airshows every summer. And all of us were always eager for Grandpa to take us up in his airplane. Something about the sky caught our imaginations. We religiously watched science fiction sitcoms and devowered books. My brothers focused on airplanes, usually military. I looked at astronomy and weather.

Now my brothers are raising children. They're passing on lthe love of science. One of my neices is already a huge fan of cars. She's facinated by them and loves to watch her father work. She's only five. I'm eager to see how she develops and where her intrests lead her.

1 comment:

Alex Fox said...

The End of Zeptember
"Off Topic" posted this last night: I don't know a lot about "blogs" - but this is NOT a blog.
Alex Fox :: Bulgarian property from Bulgarian property related website...