The call for Judith Heart Song's September's Artsy Essay: The Obscure Artsy Word List
Things are not always as they seem. This post could be funny, but it most likely will not be. It may be painful, for me to write and for you to read. So ya know, skip this entry if you'd like. It's not like I'll hunt you down and/or bombard your eMail with whining inquiries and pleas. Or spam your comments. Cuz that'd just be wrong. Wouldn't it?
Things are not always as they seem. When I was younger, a teenager, I remember how silly I felt when I first realized that the lyrics that I'd been belting out for Boys of Summer (Don Henley's 84 version) were not "dead head stickin" but were "deadhead sticker". It was funny tho, once I got over the stupid-feeling part, and could appreciate the humor of that mondegreen. Cuz if you did see a dead head stickin on a cadillac, wouldn't a lil voice inside your head say, don't look back? Yes, I think so. I know I would be having a whole choir of lil voices inside my head instructing me to not look back!
Things are not always as they seem. We've all heard and probably committed spoonerisms and malapropisms and Freudian slips and all those verbal slips and gaffes that embarrass and create sticky situations. Hell, even the president has given us much fodder, taking misspoken words and phrases to a whole new level. And as an American, I feel acute embarrassment that a leader who is so well-educated and should by all rights be very eloquent, if not at the very least well-spoken, can and does bungle things so severely. And that we continue to endorse him as president and that we even re-elected the shithead. I'm sorry, for us and for the rest of the world.
Things are not always as they seem. "I coulda binna contendah" was Brando's memorable line in On the Waterfront. I'm not familiar with the actual movie, but that speech of his character's comes to mind from time to time. For those of you not familiar with the third most oft quoted movie lines to make an impact on pop culture (right behind "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse", also spoken by Brando's character in The Godfather, and "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"), the lines are as follows:
You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.
Now, before you rush to reassure, admonish, or espouse me in comments with how regrets can be wasteful, cuz ya can get stuck in the past; or how I'm still young and have alotta life in me yet; or how I oughta put on my big-girl panties and suck it up, essentially pulling myself up by my bootstraps...before ya do all that, or any of it, let me say: I know. I get it. I got it. I will continue to get it.
But just cuz I understand something doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it. And just cuz I know something in my head, doesn't necessarily mean that I have let that knowledge inform my heartfelt beliefs. If I could and would, which I probably should, really believe that; then, I would be so much better off. Cuz there'd be so much more internal harmony and peace. Coulda woulda shoulda.
And maybe I will, eventually get it, in all ways. Eventually that might happen. But for now, I'm still getting there.
They say I'm stuck in a grieving process. They say that I haven't yet accepted that who I am doesn't depend on what I can do, what I do do, and what I have done. They say that my worth doesn't depend on my role as an active student, striding forth, completing my PhD. They say that my self-identity is not determined by my abilities or the lack thereof. They say all that, and mean all that and I say that to others and mean it for others. But I don't get it for me. I don't really believe that; because it was who I was, who I thought I'd get back to being, and now I have to accept the very real likelihood that that might not be who I will ever be again. I coulda been a contender. Now, I'm a bum.
Now before you rush to reassure or admonish that I am not a bum; let me say that I get it, I got it, I will continue to get it. Really I do. But it is extremely difficult to feel that I am not a bum, when I am under review for the continuation of disability benefits. It is extremely difficult to feel that I am not a bum when the representative for the Office of Conditional Disability in the Department ofEducation is telling me that I ought to be in a coma if I cannot work. It is decidedly difficult to feel unbumlike when my own mother sighs, "yes she had so much potential, but look at her now."
In many ways, I'm just a manque. I coulda been something, but I'm not. Well, I am. I exist, and so I am something. And one day, I hope to really get it, I hope to believe it, truly with my all, that I am not a bum. I hope to one day get and truly wholeheartedly believe that I am not defined by what I cannot do; rather than I am defined at least to those who matter, by my wonderful attributes and characteristics and what it is that I can do and do do.
(*my landlord just pounded on the door, it might have been a good place to end this anyway)