you finally figure it out and you get it and you tell people and they just don't want to hear it, garebear tells me, without even the slightest of trace of irony as he finishes telling me about his recent epiphanies regarding the 1960s.
about all of the things that, a year ago, i continually tried to engage him in conversation and about which he, at that time, said, ah, but that is the past, what does it matter?
this is to do with stories in general. because you cannot make someone listen to the story you have, the story that you know will help them understand something about themselves, if they are not yet ready for it.
but i think it is also do with families.
there is some ugly, persecuted part of myself- one among many of the least attractive parts of my self- that wonders if one's family can ever appreciate that one is an expert in something.
not just jackie. jackie they'll give me. but even a slight pivot and we move into uncertain territory.
in the strange, scarring series of conversations that unfolded around my birthday there was discussion of chappaquiddick. a word which i am nearly absolutely certain that i alone within my family can accurately spell. and yet, they have opinions.
opinions versus knowledge. perhaps i'm just too easily cowed, but it seems opinions always win.
maybe we do not really want to hear anything beyond that which confirms what we think we already know.
it's far easier if ted kennedy killed some girl whose name we no longer remember.
far easier to arrive at the story when you're finally ready for it.
but then aren't we all being dragged against our will into the whatever is becoming in ways we do not understand?
i am pained by joygerale's exclamation in memphis that the one thing she's sick of seeing in recent literature is the use of the present tense.
and here i thought i'd been so unique when, really, i am a part of some literary trend to which i'm too close to see. the librarian sees a fuller picture while the writer sits here stubbornly glaring at the computer screen trying to will a book into being, trying to be innovative, trying to do something everyone else isn't doing when, really, everyone else who is trying to do something innovative in this same moment may wind up doing that same innovative thing and we are none of us innovating because our innovations will appear replications, copies.
my father wants someone to tell him what it all means. i think what he actually wants is for someone who shares his perspective to assemble the story in a way that differs from his and yet aligns just enough so that he can see his own within it.
perhaps this is all any of us want.
i've been thinking about voice and perspective and ventriloquism and silence and stories and experience.
about how much my reading, maybe even unbeknownst to me, is about recognizing pieces of my own experience within what i read. glimpsing some bit of myself or some version of myself in someone else's story or voice.
and how much my writing is about leveraging a voice of my own out of that.
in the first grade, i was told to stop asking questions in class because it was more important that the boys should learn.
a date once told me that i sounded so different in writing. more confident, more interesting. and that he preferred me there.
after the viva, one of the examiners took issue with the fact that i use multiple voices, one for critical writing and another for creative. she said, you have to learn to merge them.
there is a part of me that thinks that may be true.
there is a significantly larger part of me that believes it is not. that you have to use whatever voice you have, whichever voice will get the job done and to which people will listen. all of the voices.
i'm just realizing that it may appear to this examiner incredibly spiteful that my corrections are all about polyphony. she encouraged unity. i seem to wind up always with fragmentation.
a protest of sorts, perhaps. but it feels necessary. and, though it sounds exhausting, it occurs naturally.
the pieces, the voices are necessary. because getting away with it, with writing, means hiding in plain sight.