Skip to main content

On the difficulties of owning your heritage and simultaneously moving forward.

 Early one Sunday morning, about two weeks ago, my dad called me to ask if I would come over to my grandma’s house to help him, my uncle, and my cousin tear down her old shed. I was tired because I had stayed up late the night before, but agreed to show up.
It was hard and sweaty work. Apparently I was a bulldozer. The thanks I got for making short work of the floor boards and walls—I lifted them off their nails and snapped them in half with brute force--made me feel good in the kind of clean way that sticks with you.

I don’t know how to reconcile the idea that I belong to a family that I didn’t choose with…I’m not sure what; something restless inside of me. There’s a belief I have that I can only own things I do with my own two hands. Like that shed. I tore down that shed. That destruction is mine. The family I was born into? I suppose I have to own it, because of genes and different levels of involvement, but I’m highly skeptical of the kind of familial jingoism that goes without saying.

I own this writing. I do this daily, sometimes feverishly early in the morning. I’m not writing for fame, I know that, although at one point I thought I was. I’m also not writing for money, because I don’t pursue payment in anything but the laziest way. I write out of compulsion. Now for instance, it’s 2:30 in the morning and here I am pecking away at the keyboard while my wife and kids—the family I consented to—is sleeping like a bunch of reasonable people should be. I own this writing. It’s part of who I am. But I do it compulsively. When it comes to writing, I’m a masturbating bear; I can’t stop. I get anxious if I don’t do it. I feel good and whole when I finish a piece; not like I’ve done something extraordinary that should be praised, but that I’ve done something that I should do. When I finish a piece of writing, my ledgers are balanced.  I am blameless as a writer. I am saintly in purpose. Much like when I helped my grandmother tear down her shed.

Because of this feeling I have about writing—I am a writer—I know that I have to own my extended family. I didn’t buy into this contract, but I can’t own one genetic proclivity and not the other. The genes affect everyone in different ways. I have my family’s poor impulse control. I, like my parents, am a recluse. I distrust the main current of family connection. I would rather stay in my house and watch a movie, or read a book, or write something, or have sex with my wife, or play action figures with my kids than go to a cookout or a cocktail party with anyone.  I am anxious and impatient. I bite my nails until they bleed sometime because there are only a few behaviors that I am completely suited for, and I can’t always engage in them. These are family traits. I have to take them.

I hate sayings like this, but ‘I come by them honestly’ is a good way to describe it. My immediate family is my wife and kids .They are members of the tribe that I am co-architect of. This tribe is a joy to claim. The other tribe is harder for me because I didn’t build it. It’s shadowy. It would’ve been much less pleasant for me to tear down a shed that I myself erected.

Originally posted to Spencer Troxell on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 02:45 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  good stuff, (0+ / 0-)

      but it feels unfinished. maybe you should pursue this theme some more some time. i've had paintings like that. ones i finished months or years later.

      "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

      by zedaker on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 08:41:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see what you mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but not everybody works that way as a writer. I rarely rework things I write; I do, however, reuse themes in later writing, so in a sense it is reworking. But I've found that people who rework specific pieces only too often will edit all the life and flow out of them.

        "A cat came to stay here for a while, and I look scared at it and it looks scared at me. Such is love." - marsanges

        by Miep on Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 11:15:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i know (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that's why i didn't suggest rewriting it, just pursuing the theme more sometime/how. it really is good writing.

          "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

          by zedaker on Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 04:25:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good for you! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's a good thing to be introspective, to pay attention to the things that make you, you.  It would be a better world if more people paid attention to understanding who they are and why they do the things that they do. And took ownership of it all. So, hugs for you!

  •  I totally understand. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, zedaker

    The other tribe is harder for me because I didn’t build it.

    The family we are born to has a set of rules and roles that we are asked to play/play by. Healthy* adult children who have separated from the family to become their own "selves" often have a hard time spending time with family, especially if the family cannot acknowledge and respect--or perhaps even understand--the adult they have become. This is especially hard for us artistic types if our families don't "get" what we do.

    My point being, the family you have built with your wife and children is a reflection, among other things, of who you are now, and who you want to be; your parents and sibs will always be a partial reflection of who you were then, and who they need you to be, perhaps absent any real understanding of who you have become.

    I get it.

    *"Healthy" is a relative term here. ;-)

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of war"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 03:18:10 PM PDT

  •  I am solitary by nature as well (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, zedaker, wayoutinthestix

    I would probably never talk to my family if I wasn't related to them.  If I met at a party, we would likely have little in common and I would find most of them irritating...hell, I still find a goodly amount of them irritating.

    Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

    by Sychotic1 on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 04:14:44 PM PDT

  •  Enjoyed this. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, zedaker, BentLiberal, Miep

    Came in because of the rescue. Expected something more unusual by a factor of 10 by what the rec said.

    Well written I thought.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 08:31:06 PM PDT

  •  I liked this piece as well (0+ / 0-)

    Quite identified with it too :-)

    "A cat came to stay here for a while, and I look scared at it and it looks scared at me. Such is love." - marsanges

    by Miep on Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 11:17:01 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site