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Tag Archives: blue collar

What’s Wrong With Wanting?

I’m a simple girl.  Quite frankly, I prefer no pretenses, false promises, or praise.  If I’m good, fine, that’s great.  If I’m not, I’ll work twice as hard to make myself better.  In fact, I’m so simple that until recently I had no idea there was another world out there.  A world outside of this small, northeastern PA town that I come from, where dead end jobs and alcoholism are expected, if not encouraged.  I’m almost thirty years old, and I’m still learning things like how to speak correctly, how to act in a public, and how to pretend I can find my way around in “polite” company.

To put it bluntly, (and maybe this honesty might bite me in the ass later) I come from nothing.  I come from a two bedroom trailer in the sticks where I lived with my grandparents who were middle school drop-outs.  My grandfather was a talented, self-made man who learned a trade and secured himself a comfortable federal job, my grandmother was a stay-at-home wife, and my mother was a high school drop-out with her first kid under her belt at 16.  By 20, she had two.  My dad was a scumbag loser who never was around.  Yes, my family is a statistic, and I am too by extension.

In school, I was always a little different.  By the time I went to kindergarten, I was reading and writing.  From then on, I was always in the top of my class.  My grandmother was so proud of my work, decorating the cardboard-like cupboards of our trailer with it, and constantly encouraging my greatness.  She always pushed for me to try new things, to come out of my shy shell, and to realize that I could do great things some day.  I remember her telling me, “You’re going to go to college, and you’re going places.  You won’t be stuck here.”

Somewhere along the way, I got lost on this winding path we call life.  In my world where education is ignored, and sometimes frowned upon, I ended up following several wrong roads, from friends,and boyfriends, meeting my father and dealing with my mother’s boyfriends, to drugs, drinking, and recreational sex.  I became a statistic, a teenage bride, married at 19, three kids by 27, and no education.  The girl who graduated near the top of her class made a few wrong turns.  Guess I skipped school the day we learned to read maps :0

Ok, so the point.  Because there is a point to this tragic sob story.  I remember how my grandmother, so simple in her sheltered innocence, thought that by going to any college would automatically open doors for me.  She truly believed that I would fit in on the premise that I was smart.  You know, I don’t think she ever realized how hard it would be for me to break the barriers of both of these worlds.  The blue-collar barrier where people don’t want better, just don’t believe in better, and the white-collar world where people will cut you off at the knees just so you don’t get ideas about possibly bettering yourself.

So I’ve made it through.  I’m graduating in May, barring some disaster, I’ve published work, and I’ve done darn well on my own.  I’ve muddled through the mess of Educationland on my own.  I’ve filed my own financial aid forms since high school, I’ve beat my brains against the wall reading and interpreting literature that I should have read years ago,  I’ve been working on my degree for damn near six years now, I’ve researched graduate schools on my own, begged for reference letters, and debased myself by asking questions that everyone “should” know in a perfect world.  And this is a world that I still truly  know nothing about.  Tonight, someone told me I should probably apply to some smaller schools because they don’t know how well I’ll do at the bigger schools I’ve applied to, or even if I’ll get accepted.  Wow, talk about a feel good moment!

Yeah…. so my question is this:  What’s wrong with wanting?  What’s wrong with fighting and clawing your way out of a rat-trap life, and pushing for the best of possible things?  What’s wrong with trying for the best?  Isn’t it better that I apply to my dream school, like Penn State, and get rejected, than to not apply at all and never know?  What’s wrong with wanting something better for myself, my kids, my family, and even, my world?

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Life

 

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Confessions of a Small Town Girl

I’m not the confessional type.  Normally, I’m bold and brash.  I’ll tell you what I think in a flat-out truthful way.  Sometimes I can come across as hard; I’m a survivor and it shows in my attitude and demeanor.  However, I have a secret, and the secret is this:

Sometimes, I feel small in this world.  There’s not one day that I feel the confidence that I display. There are things I want so bad, but inside, I can’t ever get over the feeling that I’ll never be good enough.   Most of the time, I gut through with pure grit and stubbornness.   My work ethic saves me, every time.  There’s this fire inside of me, this burning need to prove that the girl from the sticks, the one who grew up in a two bedroom trailer and wore hand-me-downs can make a difference in the world.  In my world.  The world of blue-collar jobs, and Friday night drinking.  The world where education for the sake of knowing something more, and not to get a job, is looked upon as weird.  Where I live, and honestly, the world that I love.

Yeah, I love coming from this kind of area, this kind of life-style, and this kind of background.  It’s where I’m comfortable, even though this life has its issues.  Even though I love my blue-collar world, and the people in it, I’m at odds with it constantly.  The reason?  Education.  I’m that weird girl, the good-looking redhead with the rockin’ body that spends her Friday nights at school instead of at the bar.  I’m the odd girl that talks about authors like Sherman Alexie and Tim O’Brien instead of Sandra Brown and Nicholas Sparks.  I’m the strange one who reads poetry for God’s sake!  So it’s always been, and truthfully, unless someone changes it, it’s the way that it will always be. 

Honestly, I’m still not the most educated person.  There’s a lot of things I don’t know, and there’s a lot of ways to make me feel stupid.  And, I’ve experienced every one of those ways at the hands of so-called educators who don’t realize there’s another world out there.  The one where education is actually frowned upon.  The one where opportunities for learning don’t exactly grow on trees.  I hang in there because I feel this responsibility to my world and to my talent for writing.  In a way, my talent saves me.  It gives me  a shield for the times when I don’t fit in, the times that my social graces may be lacking, and it drives me to share it with my world.

Here’s where I come to the whole point of this confession.  The other day, a friend of mine was awed by my blog post, Courage in Them Boots.  He told me, “Trish, I honestly never read, but I was amazed. You made it real.  You made it hit me.” That touched me deeply.  All of the comments, and the shares of this blog post have touched me.  Why? Am I on a narcissistic trip?  Nope… I am so touched because I am making it happen.  I am bringing my experiences to my world, and I am touching other people.  People who wouldn’t normally pick up a book are reading my stuff, and are being touched by it!  That is my dream, that is my goal, and that is my reality. 

I always said, “I want my work to MATTER to someone, the way that others’ work has mattered to me.”  My reasons are my own, but I want to matter.  Music and literature have saved my life more times than I can count, and since I’m not musically talented, I choose literature as my way to matter.  Maybe I’ll never be as famous as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, and others, but I have touched a life with my words.  I can’t explain what that means to me…

I still feel small in the world, but that’s ok.  I’ll keep the thoughts of you all with me, and that will be enough.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Life, Writing

 

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Maybe Vonnegut Has A Point!

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, what with the twenty page proposal that’s due for the poetry project that I’m doing for Capstone, the case studies for COMM Theory, the speech I’m preparing on Harley Davidson, and oh, the pesky Vonnegut novels for Advanced Lit.  Such is life during my years at Keystone. I’m usually happy when I’m so busy that I don’t have time to think.  It keeps me out of trouble.  However, the thing on my mind lately is the amount of work that I seem to be doing for nothing. 

Let me explain.  I’m the sort of person that never met a book she didn’t like until… Vonnegut.  I really don’t like his novels.  Before you jump on me with the pitchforks, hear me out.  Academically, I can really appreciate his style, and even laugh at his zany, sci-fi worlds and sarcastic narrators.  I get the point of his stories,  I strongly agree with him, and I am glad that the world has these works of wisdom to look at.  Artistically, I don’t get along with his work because his characters suck.  They have no depth.  They are cardboard cutouts of individuals who really could have come to life, had he put in the effort.  I could argue all day that better characters would have made his books kick us in the head that much harder, but I really don’t have the time or inclination because the man was a genius.

Yes, Kurt Vonnegut was a genius, and no, I still don’t like his works.  I appreciate his penchant for short and to the point statements about life, religion, love, and humanity.  As I wander through the world of academia, I wonder why we have to go on and on about nothing!  Things can be said so simply, even eloquently, if we just cut out the nonsense!  Why should I have to write a twenty paged paper full of hyperbole, when I can say what I’m going to say in three pages or less?  Why should I have a certain word count if I can get the point across in two sentences? 

And here, my friends, my two worlds come into conflict again.  It’s funny because all of my life, I thought that college would make a difference.  I would finally achieve a goal, and be on top of the world.  I’d get to enter the secret society in this world, you know, the one where dads stick around, money grows on trees, and happiness floats around for the taking. I always looked down on my situation.  I was born with an unnatural intelligence in my world.  It couldn’t be any other way; it sure wasn’t fostered and encouraged in my family.  Now, I realize that the white-collar world doesn’t have a handle on happiness.  It doesn’t have anything I don’t have in my world. It just complicates the shit out of things.  We all have the same thoughts, we just voice them differently.  Maybe that’s the truth…

Or, maybe it’s me… I come from the country; a blue-collar place in the middle of the REAL farm-town, where we say what’s on our mind, and we don’t mince words. We drive our pick-ups, work on our own cars, and don’t mind a little dirt.  We can’t worry about the way we communicate, we just do it.  We don’t have time to evaluate why we’re in a relationship; we’re just too poor to get divorced!  Maybe I’m  crazy, but I like it here in the blue-collar world where we don’t get all gaspy when we hear the F-word, we don’t have a word limit on what we say, and we don’t need a Vonnegut novel to tell us that life sucks.  We know, plain and simple.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Life

 

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I Have Two Left Feet & Two Right Boots

I don’t fit.  Anywhere.  I’m not sure I ever will.  I’m not even sure if I want to.  I like being different, in a random sort of way.  I have two left feet, and two right boots.  Some days, I can’t even find my damn boots!  I don’t fit into the blue collar world that I live in.  Sure, I can drink with the best of the guys, I can fix my own car if I need to, and I throw hay all summer long, and actually enjoy it.  I love horses, country nights, and dive bars.  I don’t fit into the academic world, even though I was taught Emily Post manners, and I’m well-read, high-minded, philosophical, and damn it, I’m smart!  I feel confined at the academic functions, longing for a t-shirt and a beer, and restless for stimulation when I’m drinking that beer in the garage, listening to metal.

Everywhere I go, I’m out of place.  No one wants to talk poetry while swilling beer, and no one wants to swig Jack Daniels while dissing Hemingway (God, how I hate that man).  No one in the academic world appreciates my talents as a grease monkey, while no one in my family cares about Robert Frost while they’re trying to put enough hay in to feed the animals over the winter.  I just don’t fit. 

Normally, I’d shrug it off.  It’s no biggie, I’m just an odd-ball.  A little eccentric, but that’s to be expected since I’m a writer.  However, sometimes my worlds collide.  Today, I will be presenting my poem, “I Never Said Thanks,” and a section of my short story, “Healing Speed,” at the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Celebration at Keystone College.  I was told, at the last moment, that I needed to dress somewhat “professional.”  You know what?  I don’t even know what the hell that means.  And there’s nothing like embarrassing yourself by showing up in jeans when everyone’s wearing dress clothes, or dressy clothes when people are in jeans.  I always get it wrong.

Then, it dawned on me.  I’m always going to be out of place.  I can’t help that I live in a world that doesn’t exactly lend itself to dress pants, and nice blouses.  I spend my summers digging in the dirt with my three children.  I’d never even own a blouse that sticky fingers, and spaghetti mouths could ruin in five minutes.  I destroy jeans on the exhaust pipes of my dually diesel, and my days in the garage.  I’m just not made for the academic world of nice clothes, and high heels.  But, there’s a part of me that wants to attend these events, and actually make a good impression. And then there’s the matter of my family.  Most of them couldn’t tell you the meaning of  a poem if you gave them five years.  It’s just not their bag.  I don’t see anything wrong with that.  Except, when I have to read my work in front of them.  Sometimes, they don’t get that poets lie, that fiction writers are writing about something they have never experienced, and half of the time the only criticism I get is that my poetry doesn’t rhyme.  And they get bored at academic functions, quickly.  Yet, I want them there with me.  Not only to share my experiences, but so they can understand what I go through when I step out of our blue collar world.  The confusion, the self-consciousness, the feeling that I’m never going to be good enough.  I spend a lot of time wondering if they’re really excited to be with me, or if they’re just humoring me.

It’s tough living with a foot in both worlds.  Sometimes I feel like I’m going to lose my tenuous grip that’s helping me hover between the two, and fall into one or the other.  I don’t want to lose the experiences in both worlds that allow me to be a well-rounded writer, and person.  Now, I’m realizing I don’t want to fit.  I don’t want to lose my hold on the reality that is me.  This is who I am.  I may have two left feet, but I sure can dance.  Now, I only have to figure out what to wear today!

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Life

 

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